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Photocopiers and Identity Theft

By Jacqueline A. Todeschi
Courtesy of

When you copy a document in a public place, did you know that the information on
your document might be available to identity thieves? The same could be true
with the photocopier in your investment adviser’s or tax preparer’s office.

Most photocopiers contain a C drive just like the one on your
computer. When a copy is made, the photocopy machine scans and then stores the
information on its hard drive prior to making the copy. Without safety
precautions in place, the photocopier’s hard drive could be hacked by an
identity thief posing as a copy machine repairman or even a shady employee
working in your tax preparer’s or financial adviser’s office.

To be secure, a copier’s hard disk should be protected with
encryption and an overwrite mechanism. Encryption encodes information so that
only the person or computer with the key can decode it . A built-in overwriting
or sanitizing mechanism erases residing data by writing a pattern of characters
across every sector of the hard drive.

Although some manufacturers are now adding these security
features to their photocopiers, many of the digital photocopiers currently in
use in public venues and businesses are at risk because they do not contain
these features. To protect yourself, ask your tax preparer, financial adviser,
or photocopy store if their machines are secure. Avoid using public photocopiers
to copy sensitive information unless you are sure that machines are secure.

Published March 21, 2008

Jacqueline A. Todeschi
Silver Planet Staff Writer,
Investment Advisor & Technical Analyst

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