Filth found on cell phone

October 15, 2009 7:50:59 AM PDT
If you recently bought your kid a cell phone or computer, you may want to check out the device thoroughly before handing it over to your child. One Woodlands area mom is happy she did. Otherwise, she says she would have given him a birthday present full of filth.

The cell phone in question was going to be a gift for an 11-year-old boy. It was supposed to be a new phone, but as the parents learned, someone else had the phone first and left behind profane texts and a picture no 11-year-old should see.

The Samsung Eternity cell phone was going to be given as a birthday gift to the boy. It came from an AT&T-branded kiosk inside The Woodlands Mall.

"I said, 'Give me a phone you think is going to be great for an 11-year-old,'" said Michelle Hewgley.

Hewgley says she thought the phone was new because the sales staff never said otherwise, but when she got home, she found text messages already on the phone.

"We came across some profanity in text messages and we were like, 'I thought we bought a new phone,' and then we keep going through and see more messages and then we see a picture of a naked girl," said Hewgley.

The phone has dozens of texts dating back to August 12, but it is that nude picture that caused the biggest shock.

"I feel violated," said Hewgley. "I'm furious, I thought I was buying something brand new."

When we told AT&T about the phone, the company contacted Hewgley and told her a new, never-used phone would be sent to her immediately. AT&T says the mall retailer mistakenly sold the pre-owned phone with information from a previous owner.

Hewgley says parents need to know this can happen when buying a cell phone.

"Make sure you find out if it is new," she said. "Even if it is not new, go in, make sure you know how to use it, how to send and receive calls. Look in the in and the sent box."

Refurbished products are sometimes sold to consumers who don't know it.

"I have seen it happen more so on cell phones than computers," said computer expert Alex Diaz.

Diaz says parents should perform a master reset on phones before handing them to kids.

"Pretty much any cell phone or PDA has a master reset which defaults it all to factory setting and wipes away all the personal information from the device," said Diaz.

You can find out how to perform a master reset in the phone's instruction book. You can find the information online, too, by going to the phone maker's website.

AT&T says the cell phone was sold at a third party retailer, not an AT&T store.

The company added it tells its retailers to "securely remove and destroy any personal information of a previous owner prior to selling a pre-owned device. It also requires that all pre-owned devices be clearly identified as refurbished or pre-owned when they are sold."

As for the kiosk manager, he refused to talk about the phone when we asked him about it this afternoon.

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