Lost iPhone? iMessages might be sent to new "owner"

Apple

Apple
(CBS) - A disturbing revelation puts some iPhone users' privacy at risk.

A new phenomenon plaguing iOS 5 users is gaining some attention online. Ars Technica reported a tale about a woman who made this discovery when she lost her iPhone 4S.

Mrs. Hovis, as she's called, did everything right. After losing her iPhone 4S, she did a remote wipe of the device and requested her carrier deactivate her SIM. After activating her replacement phone, Hovis and her husband noticed the old phone was also receiving iMessages. The new owner of Hovis' iPhone - who claims the device was purchased for $500 - was equally confused.

Ars pointed to forums where several users complained of the same problem - many of them also taking the usual steps to protect their privacy and account.

It's quite a conundrum because after wiping the device, it should reset the phone to factory settings. Hovis didn't specify what software was used to wipe the phone, but we assume she used "Find My iPhone," which is a built in feature to the iPhone 4S. And iMessage is associated with your Apple ID, not SIM card.

Apple support forum member kittyflipping reported his problems and came to a few conclusions.

"If you sell your iPhone, remove the SIM BEFORE you erase or restore factory settings on the device," kittyflipping said. "Other things you can do: change your 'Caller ID' in your message settings to your Apple ID. That way when people respond to your iMessages, it won't go to this person (who is only receiving messages sent to your #)."

We can't verify if these tips work, but the forum member claims his help ticket has be "escalated to engineering" and has been in contact with Apple.

Macworld recommends a three-step process of wiping your iPhone.

"Macworld can confirm that perhaps the easiest way to ensure that a stolen phone stops receiving iMessages is to remotely wipe the phone, and then call your carrier and instruct them to deactivate your old SIM. The third and final step? Activate a new SIM in your new phone."

Apple has not made an official statement on the issue, most likely, a fix will be released eventually.

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