Make money off your old gadgets

LOS ANGELES Laptops, cell phones, digital cameras, music players are items that consumers replace as easily as shoes, which means a lot of outdated technology lying around.

"You might as well get rid of it and cash in," said McGrath.

Why not? There are several new Web sites that pay you for old gadgets wasting space.

"Just about any kind of technology that you have has the potential of being turned in or traded up," said Lance Ulanoff, PC Magazine editor.

Some sites specialize in devices like iPods or cell phones, others accept a wider variety from cameras to laptops, but no one accepts everything or every brand.

So how do you find someone who'll take what you're giving?

"You go to the site and it allows you to walk through and identify what the gadget is by make, model, age, condition. Once you've gone through all of that, it gives you a value or an appraisal," said Ulanoff.

If you're happy with it, they'll give you shipping instructions. Once the product arrives and is verified, you get paid by check, PayPal or gift card, depending on the service.

Often, you can skip the cash and donate to a charity instead. Shop around because appraisals can vary greatly. Melissa Dombrowski was surprised.

"One site offered me $20 for a camera. Another site would offer me $60 for that camera. One site doesn't even buy back my camcorder, this particular edition. One site was going to offer me $180," said Dombrowski.

Rita McGrath is more comfortable with trade-in services over classifieds or auctions because she doesn't have to deal with the public.

"It's a lot less stressful to sell things this way. You know with whom you are dealing," said McGrath.

Plus, she's happy with her rewards. She got $115 for a $159 GPS unit.

"I also got $174 for the cell phone I traded in," said McGrath.

Sites either resell most of the devices or donate usable items to charities. If your gadget is garbage and has no value you can still mail it in and all the sites recycle.

If you're trading in a computer or hard drive, the sites do take security measures to wipe out your personal information. But experts suggest clearing out the information yourself before you trade just to be safe.

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