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Old Cellphones Get New Life As 911 Phones

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Betty Chisesi shows Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks her 911 cell phone. (credit: CBS)

Betty Chisesi shows Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks her 911 cell phone. (credit: CBS)

GOLDEN, Colo (CBS4) Cellphones are a growing problem in e-waste. Americans love the latest technology and won’t hesitate to toss aside their old phone to upgrade. But less than 10-percent of those old phones get recycled.

One program being run out of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office collects old phones and recycles them into 911 phones for senior citizens and abuse victims.

“If you had a fall or an emergency, you would have a way to get help,” said Betty Chisesi, a senior with a 911 cell phone.

The D.A.’s Office collects old cellphones, sends them to a non-profit organization in Florida where they’re wiped clean, and then turns them over to seniors for safety.

“For every phone we send off, we get a refurbished phone in return,” said Cary Johnson, a fraud investigator for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

Vibe Wireless based in Florida gets the phones. Technicians there take all the personal information off the phone including the phone number. They reset the phone with 999-999-9999 as the phone number and they set it so the phone will only call 911.

“Do you encourage people to clear any data out of their phone, delete anything before they turn over their phone?” asked 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks.

“We do encourage it but we realize a lot of time it doesn’t happen because typically speaking the phones that we get have probably been sitting in a drawer for one year, two years, three years…whatever,” replied Bob Mikler, Business Development Manager for Vibe Wireless.

So far the Jefferson County program has given out 900 of these phones to seniors like Chisesi.

“It gives me a sense of security,” Chisesi said.

You can donate your old cell phones to the program during the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office Community Safety Fair on Saturday, August 25th from 9am to 1pm at the Jefferson County Fair Grounds.

RELATED: More Reports By 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks

- Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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