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Is it safe to sell your smart home devices?

eBay rival Swappa now lets you sell smart home tech like the Amazon Echo, but it’s worth being cautious

Second-hand tech trading website Swappa recently added new sections for selling and buying ‘internet of things’ (IoT) gadgets, from smart hubs such as the Amazon Echo to Nest wireless security cameras. However, you should approach selling your IoT devices with caution because of the potential security risk to your personal data.

If you’re a ‘second-generation’ smart home product owner who upgraded your IoT device on Black Friday, or you are thinking of doing so for Christmas, you might be thinking about selling your old smart home tech.

Smart hub reviews – read our verdicts of all the devices we’ve tested.

Swappa is a trading platform that facilitates sales of like-new and ‘gently used’ (eg slightly scratched) tech devices, from smartphones to tablets, wearables and now smart home products. You simply list the product you want to sell on the site for people to buy. You can filter results to see only UK sellers.

It differs from eBay in that every product listed goes through a series of Swappa-staff-approved security measures aiming to maintain high standards.

This includes checking the device serial number for fraudulent activity, and checks aimed at ensuring the product is in a fully functioning condition, with little more damage than a few scratches allowed for products to be listed on the site.

Swappa is now accepting sales of smart home products but, just like with a phone or tablet, you must be sure your personal data is deleted before you sell it.

While it can vary by product, IoT smart devices can contain personal information, such as your email address, home address and weekly schedule, so you must delete these to avoid giving hackers access to your network. It’s important to be completely confident that these passwords and other personal data have been deleted from your devices.

You must also deactivate your IoT account on the device.

If you do choose to sell your smart home tech, you should take the following steps to reduce the risks:

  • Fully follow the account deletion process on your device.
  • Also fully follow the account deletion process on the app or web portal.
  • Restart your device after you have deactivated your account to check that it was successful, as data can easily linger. See whether you can set up a new account, or whether your one is still active.

New EU laws are on the horizon to bolster IoT product security standards, which could make selling smart home gadgets safer in future.

If you have any doubt about whether any personal information remains on the device, don’t sell it.

We are actively looking at how easy it is to decommission IoT gadgets and we’ll have more to say on this in the new year.

Swappa provides a list of FAQs for resetting your smart home products before sale, and also has instructions on its sale pages that aim to guide sellers through the process of safely shipping a device.

A Swappa spokesperson told us: ‘We try to make it as clear as possible during the selling process to help sellers know what they have to do before selling their products. We take buyer and seller security very seriously at Swappa.’

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