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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

Copy Machines Have Good Memories


The world has become an increasingly digital place, not just in the home but in the workplace too. Ensuring proper identity theft protection means staying vigilant against any possible opportunities where someone may be able to get their hands on your sensitive personal and financial information. But would you believe that one of these culprits could actually be your office's copy machine?

As the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection writes, "Digital copiers are computers." Copy machines nowadays are networked, "smart" devices that use hard drives to store copies of documents that are emailed, faxed or duplicated. The reason for a copier's use of hard drive storage is that it allows for a faster rate of production and helps the machine take on a higher incoming volume of print or copy jobs. While this is a huge benefit to office copiers that may be used on a regular basis, it does conceal one significant downside: Those stored images of your personal documents may be accessed by identity thieves.

This is especially troubling during tax season, when millions of Americans may be using their copiers to create duplicates of their W-2s and other important, confidential financial forms. While you may trust the people in your home or office not to tap into the machine's hard drive to get a look at your documents, the same can't be said of the copier's eventual new owners. After all, when a copy machine is disposed of, the documents stored in its hard drive are still there, and ripe for identity theft.

To provide additional security from ID theft, make sure to equip your copier with encryption or overwriting measures, to leave your sensitive data unreadable to cyber thieves.

Beat ID thieves to your refund. #TAXRACE

Source: FTC —