To truly protect yourself, you have to be on the lookout -- a task that starts with awareness.
Do Digital Copiers Pose An Identity Theft Risk?
A little over four years ago, CBS News broke the unseen world of fraud wide open when it aired a story that claimed digital copiers were being used as a channel for identity theft. The New York Times picked up the narrative ball and ran with it, but despite these efforts, the story failed to garner the necessary public interest and was sidelined in favor of more newsworthy topics.
To this day, more than 60 percent of the American population remains unaware that digital copiers pose any kind of threat to their identity. But why are digital copiers a threat? They have the ability to store and retain scanned information.
No, a digital copier and a computer are not the same thing, but they do share one feature in common: a hard drive. Commercial copiers in particular record the information you scan to be copied. Unless the hard drive is wiped, that information is a veritable goldmine for identity theft. All a person needs to do is access it, and a tiny mistake on your part can lead to a huge, messy disaster.
Public Use Is Risky Business
Like many of the digital avenues for information gathering, there is a difference between private versus public copier usage. Generally, public copiers are more vulnerable.
The machines used in office buildings, retail stores, gas stations, and libraries are more likely to be equipped with hard drives. More often than not, they are also bought second-hand. While this measure is cost-effective, that's only because the businesses that buys these machines don't fully realize what they’re risking.
People know enough now to safeguard their computers. They use firewalls, anti-virus and malware protection, and they never forget to wipe a system before they resell it. The same should, but can't be said, for copiers. These machines hit the open market chalked full of personal information that could fall into the wrong hands.
How Do Consumers Avoid A Fraudulent Outcome?
The good news is that there are more identity protection services and government regulations than there were four years ago. Then again, experts still recommend complete avoidance of public and professional copy services. Barring that, exercise caution and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Find out what kind of copiers are being used by businesses, ask how often the machine hard drives are wiped, and know the copy and print policies if you plan to access these machines at work. Look into protection services and find out what your recourse is if something does happen. Awareness and prevention are still your best defense.
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