7 On Your Side:Private Cell Phone Information On Display - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

1/3/06-Tyler

7 On Your Side:Private Cell Phone Information On Display

"All my information. My life [is] on my phone," says Madeline Grimmett.

It's private information she didn't know was made so public.

Last month, the Alltel customer went shopping at the Tyler location for a smartphone. The last thing she thought she'd see on display, was an old phone she turned in four months ago.

"It still had my text messages. Messages from that day and the day before. Still had all my numbers. On the main screen you can put the picture in the background, it was the picture of my sister and I fishing," says Madeline.

And there's more, Madeline says she saved logins and passwords in it for her bank and email accounts.

"It had addresses, phone numbers, personal birthdays and when my bills were due on my calendar and everything," she describes.

Alltel referred us to their corporate office who says the phone was returned to the floor by mistake.

"We are going to look into it to make sure we understand exactly how this happened and this should not have happened. It's inconsistent with Alltel's procedures," says company spokesman Andrew Moreau.

Alltel says that procedure includes sending the phone off to clear a user's personal information.

But you can clear personal information yourself, it's called a "master clear." Your user's manual gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do it.  Or when you turn in your phone to the store an experienced sales rep who should know how to do it for you.

On this Motorola phone for example, the "master clear" instructions are detailed in three simple steps.

The Treo smartphone lists it as a "resetting" feature with a detailed illustration.

Madeline says her privacy was violated enough to change old habits....

"Saving account numbers on my phone, I'm not doing that. Logins and passwords I'm not doing that," declares Madeline.

And she's change providers.  Madeline cancelled her Alltel contract.

Alltel also told us, this is an "unusual" situation and is still looking into the matter to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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