Are Refurbished Phones and Second-hand phones a Security Risk in Australia?

Are you planning to buy a pre-owned phone but are worried about performance and security risks? With the constantly rising prices of new phones, more and more people are opting for used phones. But like most customers, you too may worry about the security risks that come with buying a used phone.

Common risks with buying a pre-owned mobile are data hacking, phishing, stolen devices and remote takeover of the device. As most of your online activity is done through mobile, any data breach or hacking leaves you vulnerable to data leakage. This includes your username and passwords for including banking and credit card transactions.

Hacking of used or pre-owned phones can also lead to leakage of sensitive documents, photos or videos that puts your privacy at risk. Such risks are minimised or negligible in new phones as they come with pre-installed anti-hacking software and have not been accessed by any unauthorised persons. Therefore, the question remains: How safe are pre-owned phones in terms of privacy and data security?

Refurbished Phone vs. Second-Hand Phones – Understanding Security Risk

Do you also consider refurbished and second-hand mobile phones the same? This is a common misconception among buyers. The major difference between the two is that while a refurbished mobile is sold by a manufacturer, authorised distributor or licensed reseller, second-hand phones are bought directly from the owner or the grey market.

Refurbished phones usually come with a warranty and a factory reset. They are also cleaned and checked for any hardware or software issues that may impact their performance. In contrast, second-hand phones are sold on an “as is where is” basis. They come with no warranties, may not be properly cleaned and may be loaded with hidden phishing apps or programs. As they are sold very cheap, they attract many buyers who trade security and performance for price or short-term gains.

Here are the key aspects of pre-owned mobile’s security that you should be aware of vis-à-vis a refurbished and second-hand devices:

  • Warranty: The refurbished mobile usually comes with a manufacturer or resellers’ warranty. However, understand the fine print and ask any questions before you buy it as phone repair or replacement of expensive parts depends on it, in case of snags. The warranty may be breached, expired or not offered in case of a second-hand phone.
  • Hardware snags: A refurbished mobile is thoroughly checked for hardware snags or performance issues. The reseller fixes any faults and ensures optimum performance before offering it for sale. This means you get a high performing device that is less likely to develop issues. A second-hand phone in comparison offers no such guarantee and you will need to check and test it yourself before buying. If you are not familiar with mobiles, you may be vulnerable to risk on this count.
  • Security updates: The older phones that you can find in the secondary market may be obsolete and the manufacturer may no longer be offering security patches or updates. This makes the older mobiles vulnerable to hacking. Refurbished phone sellers do not sell older, obsolete models. They also update security patches and software before offering mobiles for sale.

Tips to Keep Your Refurbished Mobiles Safe

Here are some of the tips that can help you keep your refurbished mobile safe against hacking or data breaches:

  • Factory Reset: Ensure that the device is factory-reset before you buy it. The reseller should have it mentioned clearly on their website. If in doubt, get clarification from the customer service or sales team. Factory reset ensures that the refurbished mobile has been cleaned of data of the previous owner. This reduces the risk of data leakage or remote log-ins.
  • App Permissions: Check carefully the apps permissions on the refurbished mobile that you have bought. Remove apps that you do not need or do not plan to use. Revoke certain permissions if you think that they are not required for the smooth functioning of the app or they expose you to data leakage.
  • Logout of all Unrecognised Accounts: If the refurbished phone has come with a factory reset, then it will have no account sign-in of the previous owner. Still, it is a good idea to double-check. If you find any unrecognised account sign-in on your device, log out immediately.
  • Avoid APK files and unofficial app stores: Do not download apps from the internet, unofficial app stores or any APK files. Only download apps from the official Apple store (iOS) or the Google Play store as they are cross-checked for hidden virus and malware.
  • Phishing Attacks: Learn to recognise phishing attacks and do not click on any unverified links. This ensures that no data is stolen from the refurbished phone that you have bought.

Where to Buy Refurbished Phones in Australia?

Mobile Guru is a trusted name in the refurbished phones market in Melbourne. Buy any refurbished phone from our online store and get a high-performing, secure device with amazing discounts. Every refurbished mobile that we sell goes through a 72-point check and comes with up to 24 months warranty. Buy today and we’ll ship it the same or the very next day to any location in Australia.

For queries on any mobile on our website or order assistance, you can call us on 1300 362 017 or email us at

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