FraudJournal Blog

May 12, 2010

Copiers Contribute To ID Theft

Filed under: Author's Post,Fraud,Fraud Alerts — fraudjournal @ 10:07 AM

One of the ways fraudsters get better at their jobs is by bloggers and media explaining how fraud is committed. The internet is the best archival source of anything and everything you could possibly want to learn. Having said that, it also is one of the best ways to educate the general public and in my case, share info with those who are focused on fighting fraud.

Today, I was forwarded from a colleague at ForensicCPA.org a video she received from another colleague at AccuityForensics.com. The original video was aired by CBS News in April 2010 about the security risk of personal and commercial information stored on the hard drives of copy machines. Most of us know that computer hard drives can be searched using forensic software for information during investigations. But most of us don’t think about all the copy machines we use either at a drug store, library, school or copy place. Often these machines are leased and when no longer needed or out dated, are returned to be refurbished and then resold. They usually go over seas at the low prices of under $500 each since they are bought in large quantities at a time to be resold in smaller shops for local businesses.

In the defense of the Copier Manufacturers (such as Sharp as stated in the video), some offer a separate package to erase the information from the hard drive to reduce security risk. Most businesses however, find this cost unnecessary or too expensive at the time of the purchase. It could also be that the sales agent, doesn’t know or offer this. So it is important to know about this and to ask if the package or add-on is available. The bottom line is it’s up to each of us to manage our own personal and business identity risk.

I chose to add this post to the blog to initiate discussion and to get everyone to ask the question about where they last copied a document containing private information, and to inform other as well as their place of work about this risk. Same goes for those recycling places. It isn’t up to them to keep your information safe. Have the hard drives of any pieces of technology cleaned before handing them off. This includes cell phone, video cameras, computers and copiers. Most of the information requires sophisticated software to remove the data and put it into a format that is readable to you and me, but we all know that fraudsters manage to locate and utilize unusual methods tools for their trade. After all, they have the time to do nothing but be creative about their means and methods.

Your homework is to verify your own information security risks. Go to the links below to see the video.  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6412572n

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