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3 On Your Side: Phone ATMs, Recycle & Get Cash

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whenever you buy a new Smartphone, you have to do something with your old one. Most of us put it in a drawer and leave it there, others sell them online. But 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us about another option. A California company is giving out instant cash for old phones, it’s like using an ATM.

The EcoATM certainly isn’t your typical money machine. According to Tom Tullie of EcoATM, “You place your device inside of the chamber, the system will close on it and will identify that phone via the use of artificial intelligence software, camera and vision systems and will come up with a price.”

Users can get more than $200 for recycling some of the latest model cell phones. 181 kiosks across the U.S. are the first to be used this way. Handheld recycling is quickly turning into big business. There are 278 million deactivated or idle mobile phones in the U.S. right now, and only 20-percent are recycled.

Katie Boehret, Technology Reporter for the Wall Street Journal warns consumers just to be careful. She says, “They might drop their phones off and they might get the cash for it, but I think a lot of people will make the mistake of not wiping their phone [off] in the first place, so it could be a real privacy concern.”

While EcoATM says its kiosks encourage users to completely erase the data from their devices before selling them, the company actually does their own final data wipe. As for concerns about stolen items. Users must scan a photo ID and be digitally finger-printed, before the phones are sent off to be refurbished or recycled.

To find an EcoATM location nearest you visit: http://www.ecoatm.com/.

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