Don't Waste Your Money: Returning gadgets could lead to ID theft - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Returning gadgets could lead to identity theft

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(Toledo News Now) -

Now that it's the new year, are you thinking of returning a laptop, tablet, or other gadget you received over the holidays? Before you pack it up and head back to the store, we have a very important caution on returning electronics.

Matt Wahlert recently returned a laptop because it had a bad hard drive. He thought the transaction went well until he learned someone bought his laptop refurbished – and it still contained all of his personal information and tax forms.

Something similar happened to Sean Morath last Christmas when he returned an iPad to Best Buy and then received a strange e-mail.

"A friend bought a new iPad and when he opened it up, it said, ‘Hello Sean Morath,'" he explained.

Morath said his used iPad was resold without his name and credit card info removed.

Best Buy representatives said stores are supposed to erase and reset all returned electronics.

In a statement, the company said, "We are sorry to hear about this incident. We will take the appropriate action to rectify this situation."

To avoid this risk, before returning something, go to your gadget's settings and look for an "erase" or "restore" button.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to erasing an Apple product.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to erasing an Android product.

Another option is to have a store employee erase your device as you watch.

"Either find someone you know who knows how to clear them out, or demand it gets erased in front of you before you leave the store," Morath suggested.

If your gadget might have personal information on it, like a credit card number or your address, make sure it's erased before you return it.

That way, you stay safe in 2014 and you don't waste your money.

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