When it’s time to choose an option for your old computer disposal, it can be tempting to take the fastest or cheapest option. For many, this decision can prove to be far more costly than anticipated. If you are getting rid of an old computer, make sure you aren’t also getting rid of your sensitive documents and data in the process.
A common concern in our tech-driven world is how much data the websites we interact with have about us. No matter how comfortable you are living your life online, it can be unsettling to learn that in the world of data-driven marketing, advertisers are able to track your behavior and purchases across devices and into the real world, even when you’re not logged in on your device. Perhaps even more unsettling is that the collected data creates an alarmingly accurate profile of your past and present activities, which are used to make predictive assumptions about your future behavior.
Given the focus on “big data” its no wonder that many view protecting their identity as something they only have to worry about online. In reality, however, even your offline devices store a significant amount of personal information. Your personal laptop may store your documents, tax returns, addresses and phone numbers, appointments, bank statements, passwords, account numbers, and more. And yet, studies have found that among discarded computers and those sold on the secondary market, up to 40% still contained personally identifying information that was traceable to the original owners.
There are steps you can take to delete your data to reduce the risk of it falling into the wrong hands when disposing of an old computer which you read about in detail here. <Insert link to future post 255> Choosing the right computer disposal method is also a critical step in protecting your personally identifying information.
Recycling old computers
Consumers should use caution when selecting a computer recycling company, however. Unfortunately, some businesses who advertise computer recycling are engaged in shady practices that have nothing to do with environmental stewardship and everything to do with turning a profit. They may be shipping your old electronics to developing nations where local workers are paid pennies on the dollar to disassemble the devices, which results in dire consequences to the environment as well as the workers’ health.
Other companies may illegally dump any items which they are unable to sell in a local landfill. With such irresponsible practices and a disregard for others at the core of their business model, it’s difficult to imagine these scrappers treating your data with care. Even if you’ve taken careful measures to wipe your drives of any remaining data, it is wise to ensure that those you entrust to dispose of your old computer have demonstrated that they are, in fact, trustworthy. Reading customer reviews online from several different sources and asking friends or family for recommendations can both help you reduce your chances of handing over any lingering data to those who may misuse it.
Computer Trade-In Programs
Many retailers have trade-in or buy-back programs you can take advantage of if you purchased your old computer or will be purchasing a new computer from them. The manufacturer, age, condition, and functionality of your old computer will all be factored into the trade-in value or payment you might receive. While even the newest devices in excellent condition don’t fetch significant prices, it may be worth the trip to one or several stores to compare quotes if you’re in the market for a new computer and don’t have use for the old one.
Computer manufacturers also have take back or recycling programs you may want to consider. In some states, these programs are required by law, but some manufacturers opt to extend them to all states, even those where it isn’t mandatory. Some companies partner with retail stores to facilitate their takeback initiatives and may offer mail-in options, as well. We always recommend confirming the details directly with the manufacturer, as well, to ensure there haven’t been recent changes. Typically you can find this information on their website or by calling their customer support line.
When researching the details of computer take-back programs online, you’ll no doubt encounter third-party buyers offering to pay you for your used electronics. Many of these are legitimate, such as Amazon’s used electronics program and others. Others should receive careful vetting, however. In the past, websites claiming that they would pay top dollar for old computers were investigated by the FTC and shut down due to their bait and switch practices.
These now shuttered businesses provided a price estimation tool on their websites which provided quotes to consumers looking to sell their old computers and devices. When sellers reviewed the price and sent their electronics to the company for evaluation, they were given an updated quote sometimes as low as 3% of the original. While it’s not uncommon for mail-in programs to provide an estimate that is updated once the item is received an evaluated, these websites offered a short window of only five days (including weekends, when the businesses were closed) for sellers to accept or counter the new offer. After five days, the quote was considered accepted by default. During this five day period, investigators found that they made it difficult to reach them so the review period would run out, sometimes even hanging up on sellers who managed to get through to them.
While the websites in the situation above were shut down by a federal court, the experience serves as a warning to carefully review the background of any service to ensure they're conducting business fairly. If they aren’t, their lack of ethics could well extend to the way they treat any lingering data on your devices, leaving you with a much larger problem than just a smaller than expected check.
Selling your old computer
There is no shortage of available markets for selling old computers. eBay, CraigsList, Facebook, Letgo, and many other websites make selling your old computer directly to a new buyer easier than ever. This approach often comes with the benefit of higher selling prices than other options, too.
The downside of direct-to-buyer sales, however, is that it is far more difficult to assess the risks of selling to an individual buyer than it is when you’re selling to a company. The safest approach to ensure that your personally identifying information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands is to remove and destroy your hard drive after wiping your data. Selling a computer without its hard drive will reduce its selling price, which is frequently cited as the reason this method is ruled out.
While many buyers might not consider buying a secondhand computer without a hard drive, plenty of charities would be happy to receive it as a donation. You can contact charities you already support to ask if they accept donations of old computers, or find those who may online.
Professional and Safe Computer Disposal
Junk King offers a safe and reliable ewaste removal service which provides you with an eco-friendly option for getting rid of your old computer and other unused electronic devices. Our team of professionals can pick up your old computers along with most other types of junk you need to be hauled away and will determine the best disposal method to reduce the environmental impact depending on its condition and state and local restrictions.
We recycle up to 60% of everything we haul at recycling facilities equipped to dismantle and sort these items safely, so you don’t have to worry about hazardous components ending up in a landfill.
Ready to get rid of that junk? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.
Our professional e-waste removal team will always call 15 minutes before our arrival at your home or office so you know when we’ll arrive. Once we're there, we'll assess your items and provide you with a free estimate that is always transparent and free of hidden fees for us to haul and properly dispose of your items.
You can make an appointment by booking online above or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865).