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Circuit City Used Consoles Had Porn, CC #'s

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.