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Circuit City Used Consoles Had Porn, CC #'s

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 29 comments

Apparently, pre-owned consoles taken in by Circuit City--before the chain officially closed its doors--contained personal information such as credit card numbers and homemade porn that was never deleted before liquidation.

It's truly unfortunate that Circuit City ultimately closed its doors. Locally, the building sits deserted, with shadows darting within its darkened windows like ghosts of previous consumers and employees trapped in time. Grass is beginning to reach up to the sun through cracks in the pavement. At one time, the store thrived with business and showed no sign of its economical troubles, it's bright sign a beacon of economic success and electronic wonder. It was a great place to pick up gadgets, gizmos, and much-needed hardware, and for some, a handy place to trade in used gaming consoles.

For consumers who actually did trade in used consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 before the corporation closed its doors, they may find themselves in a bit of a pickle. As it turns out, Circuit City liquidated everything--including gaming consoles. The catch is that Circuit City did not wipe the drives before selling off the used merchandise. What this means is that personal information stored on the hard drives (or other data storage devices) remained intact if the consumer did not remove the information prior to selling the device.

That, of course, is bad news. Third party buyers now have access to a plethora of personal data consisting of credit cards details, photos, videos, downloaded retail and arcade games, and even home-made porn. One firm that bought a good chunk of the used console stock from Circuit City even claimed that most of them were actually broken, or "non-functioning" as stated. Once the firm began to repair all the damaged consoles, it discovered loads of sensitive, personal data.

"The facility discovered this while repairing the damaged consoles," reports Kotaku. "They'd fix them, turn them on, test their network connectivity, then suddenly start receiving friend requests, chat requests, game invites, etc. What's more, with the user details still recorded on the system, they could have easily purchased game content on an unsuspecting former owner's credit card." To back up the claim, the unnamed firm sent images showing stacks and shelves of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.

While the idea is somewhat humorous--especially visualizing someone's homemade porn planted on an Xbox 360 hard drive--it's a good eye-opener to the fact that even gaming machines can compromise personal security. Even game-related stores such as EBGames are notorious for not inspecting used hardware thoroughly. As witness to that effect, it personally took three tries to get a working, used PlayStation Portable: the first one locked up completely, and the second one had a bad thumbstick and a dead pixel. Thankfully, the third PSP still functions well today, however unbeknown to the local EBGames shop, it contained a memory card housing the prior owner's pictures and other personal information.

Way to go.

The message here is that consumers should wipe all personal information from any electronic device before selling it, whether it's an iPod Touch, PSP, Xbox 360, or a 500 GB external hard drive. Obviously retail organizations will not thoroughly wipe personal data, and it may be that external shops hired by said corporations may actually access that data if the devices go in for repair. With that in mind, consumers should be extremely cautious.

As the famous X-Files saying goes, Trust No One.

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    mdillenbeck , March 31, 2009 10:19 PM
    LATTEHman i wish i bought a console there now XD

    Dunno - if you've seen the average US gamer and their girlfriend, you might reconsider that... :p 
  • 13 Hide
    warezme , March 31, 2009 9:20 PM
    Hmmm, how is this Circuit City's fault? It would be the previous owners responsibility to take off their data from their own machine. I have only had to send in my laptop in once for repairs and I made sure there was no personal information on it before it left my hands.
  • 12 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 31, 2009 10:09 PM
    Maybe he just bought a special XBOX 360: Porn Edition.
Other Comments
    Display all 29 comments.
  • 13 Hide
    warezme , March 31, 2009 9:20 PM
    Hmmm, how is this Circuit City's fault? It would be the previous owners responsibility to take off their data from their own machine. I have only had to send in my laptop in once for repairs and I made sure there was no personal information on it before it left my hands.
  • 12 Hide
    LATTEH , March 31, 2009 9:37 PM
    man i wish i bought a console there now XD
  • 1 Hide
    radiowars , March 31, 2009 9:39 PM
    LATTEHman i wish i bought a console there now XD

    Win
  • 4 Hide
    hellwig , March 31, 2009 10:09 PM
    So there's no password protection for the credit card information? So someone steals your console and you're just as screwed? No thanks.

    While its not Circuit City's responsibility to wipe the data, they should have at least asked or reminded people to do so. I mean, if a good portion of the people shopping at Circuit City or Best Buy weren't technologicaly impaired, they wouldn't need FireDog or GeekSquad. Obviously these people don't know what they're doing, so a friendly company should at least warn people their sensitive data could still be on the console, and even offer to show the person how to erase it.
  • 12 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 31, 2009 10:09 PM
    Maybe he just bought a special XBOX 360: Porn Edition.
  • -4 Hide
    superblahman123 , March 31, 2009 10:13 PM
    warezmeHmmm, how is this Circuit City's fault? It would be the previous owners responsibility to take off their data from their own machine. I have only had to send in my laptop in once for repairs and I made sure there was no personal information on it before it left my hands.


    So if I bought a used sofa from some resale shop, it's the prior owners fault if I find a rat in it? Come on now, I don't know about you, but if I bought used stuff, I would expect it to be cleaned. Ethics man, ethics.
  • 15 Hide
    mdillenbeck , March 31, 2009 10:19 PM
    LATTEHman i wish i bought a console there now XD

    Dunno - if you've seen the average US gamer and their girlfriend, you might reconsider that... :p 
  • 0 Hide
    jerreece , March 31, 2009 10:21 PM
    The SchnozMaybe he just bought a special XBOX 360: Porn Edition.


    That might just be on the model list. They make so many freaking models these days.

    As far as the article goes. "Duh."

    Truth is, outside of company attorneys, Circuit City could have cared less (and same with Best Buy, or EBGames, etc). They're all about moving product and generating revenue. The time it would take (and cost) to have someone sit down and thoroughly test and format the hard drives on every single unit, would cost them to much money to be profitable.

    This is all about getting someone to trade-in their old system for a new one, at a profit. We'll give you $20 for it, sell it for $99, and throw in a free game with your new system.

    If you're stupid enough to put home-made porn on your XBOX360, you deserve to have someone else view it after you give away your system. Erase your stuff.
  • 1 Hide
    vaskodogama , March 31, 2009 10:21 PM
    I think it's the sellers mistake, they must have deleted their data from what they are giving (selling) to someone else!
    if my ps3 filled with my porn, I sold it, the buyer saw my girl friends naked body, in action, that's my mistake, I must have removed everything before I handed/sold it to a stranger!
  • 6 Hide
    grieve , March 31, 2009 10:26 PM
    The SchnozMaybe he just bought a special XBOX 360: Porn Edition.

    You run home, all excited like getting your first Playboy. You turn it on... and its some fatty, with missing teeth!

    RMA!! RMA!!
  • 0 Hide
    grieve , March 31, 2009 10:50 PM
    I agree the seller should remove their personal information from any hardware. You certainly wouldn’t sell your car with your wallet still in the glove box.

    If I were a buyer however I also would have like the unit “good as new” and not containing someone else’s junk.
    I’m really on the fence on this one.
  • 0 Hide
    furryappleseed , March 31, 2009 11:08 PM
    Maybe its just me but I never really thought this was a surprising thing. Just doesn't seem cost effective to pay someone to clean these things when a good portion of them will be returned anyway.

    Porn left on a gaming system = fail for the former owner.
  • 3 Hide
    apache_lives , March 31, 2009 11:10 PM
    this brings an all new meaning for red ring of death :o 
  • -1 Hide
    ravenware , March 31, 2009 11:12 PM
    The SchnozMaybe he just bought a special XBOX 360: Porn Edition.


    Yeah the HardCORE bundle :) 
  • 5 Hide
    SecksPanther , March 31, 2009 11:32 PM
    Even though credit card applications are being sent to kids still in high school (heck, maybe even middle school), I'd still say anyone old enough to have a credit card should be old enough to understand why that kind of information should be protected. There's really no excuse for leaving it on there. Either they simply forgot about it, or they actually decided to be lazy and leave it on there, which makes it their own fault either way.

    As for the porn, ignorance is no excuse for them since they apparently were able to upload the videos. Deletion can't be that much more difficult.
  • 2 Hide
    w4ffles , April 1, 2009 12:21 AM
    Doesn't anyone else realize that "most of them were actually broken, or "non-functioning" as stated." means that people can't even boot it up to wipe the hard drive? Their only option would have been to place the hard drive in a working console before deleting everything.
  • 0 Hide
    hellscook , April 1, 2009 1:27 AM
    The seller should remove personal information, but what Circuit City stores "traded in" consoles? This isn't GameStop we're talking about, they didn't do trades.
  • -1 Hide
    The Schnoz , April 1, 2009 2:07 AM
    ravenwareYeah the HardCORE bundle

    The disturbing thing is the color was still white.
  • 1 Hide
    KyleSTL , April 1, 2009 2:12 AM
    How are you supposed to wipe clean a device which ceases to function?

    I would:
    1. Remove HDD
    2. DBAN HDD
    3. Reinstall HDD

    However, the average consumer would never do this. Including the fact that it would void the warranty (especially if turning it in under warranty would mean a free or discounted replacement).
  • 2 Hide
    Parrdacc , April 1, 2009 4:02 AM
    Always wondered what the X's in XBOX where for :) 
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