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Consumer

Warning: Your Employer Could Wipe Your Cellphone, Laptop, Tablet — Clean

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Woman using her cellphone at work.

Woman using her cellphone at work.

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Don’t want to carry around two cell phones? Chances are, you’ve opted to use your own device at work. Be warned: that convenience could end up costing you money and memories.

At first Michael Irvin thought his phone was just experiencing a glitch.

“I saw just a blank screen just like I got it originally,” said Irvin. “It had no e-mails; it had no text messages, no apps, nothing — it was just completely wiped.”

The medical consultant said he soon learned his personal phone had been wiped clean by his former employer.

“There were photos of my mother with my kids, a lot of new phone numbers, and contact information I had gathered,” said Irvin.

He’s not alone.

Bring your own device – or B.Y.O.D. – policies are skyrocketing. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. companies say they’ll require employees to supply their own phones and tablets within the next 2 years.

At the National Workrights Institute, cell phone wiping has become the number one workplace complaint.

“Everyone that we’ve heard from is just shocked,” said founder Lewis Maltby.

Maltby said most people don’t realize when they get access to the company server or email, the company gets access to their cell phone.

That’s generally not a problem until the employee leaves the company.

“You can understand why the company would want to wipe the cell phone,” said Malby. “You’ve got a lot of communications on there that are business-oriented, [or] maybe company data.”

“Unfortunately what happens is that the whole cell phone gets wiped, and now you lose everything,” said Malby.
You may be automatically agreeing to allow your company to wipe your phone clean by simply logging on to the server or exchange… from your cell phone.

Labor and employment attorney Mark Terman and said companies generally don’t go out of their way to disclose this.

“There’s a fair amount of confusion among both employees and employers,’ said Terman.

He adds that without a signed written agreement, employers can be – and have been – sued for destroying personal information.

It’s not much help for people like Michael Irwin whose contacts and photos are irreplaceable.

If you know you’re about to leave your company back up your phone. However, you may be able to prevent a wipe by disconnecting from the exchange server.

Be warned that some companies require employees to download wiping software on personal devices – including laptops – that may enable them to delete everything from your music library to personal email archives.

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