The Copier Stole My Identity – A New Fraud Prevention Strategy To Consider

I recently read a news story on digital photocopiers and the data secrets they hold and how this information can be accessed in photocopiers that are resold.  CBS proves just how easy it is for companies (and governments) to unwillingly expose their employees and customers to identity theft.

Here’s a snippet of what happened and what was discovered:

Juntunen picked four machines based on price and the number of pages printed. In less than two hours his selections were packed and loaded onto a truck. The cost? About $300 each.

Until we unpacked and plugged them in, we had no idea where the copiers came from or what we’d find.

We didn’t even have to wait for the first one to warm up. One of the copiers had documents still on the copier glass, from the Buffalo, N.Y., Police Sex Crimes Division.

It took Juntunen just 30 minutes to pull the hard drives out of the copiers. Then, using a forensic software program available for free on the Internet, he ran a scan – downloading tens of thousands of documents in less than 12 hours.

The results were stunning: from the sex crimes unit there were detailed domestic violence complaints and a list of wanted sex offenders. On a second machine from the Buffalo Police Narcotics Unit we found a list of targets in a major drug raid.

The third machine, from a New York construction company, spit out design plans for a building near Ground Zero in Manhattan; 95 pages of pay stubs with names, addresses and social security numbers; and $40,000 in copied checks.

But it wasn’t until hitting “print” on the fourth machine – from Affinity Health Plan, a New York insurance company, that we obtained the most disturbing documents: 300 pages of individual medical records. They included everything from drug prescriptions, to blood test results, to a cancer diagnosis. A potentially serious breach of federal privacy law.

When one thinks about identity theft, it’s easy to overlook the copier as posing a risk.  And you can pretty much bet that almost every single company has a copier or 2 in their offices.  Seems like now would be a great time to incorporate the copier into your Red Flag identity theft prevention and overall data protection strategy!

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