Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive just like the one on your personal computer – storing an image copy of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by copy machine according to a recent CBS News story. This startling discover is a little secret that is starting to leak out thanks to recent news stories. If you’re in the identity theft business an old copiers could be a pot of gold.
The type of information found on some of these machines include social security numbers, birth certificates, bank records, income tax forms, medical records and more.
MSI Detective Services offers forensic wiping of hard drives on copiers, computers and other devices that contain electronic storage. Since a free program could easily capture and deliver to a bad guy all of your previously copied documents, the potential of identity theft is huge.
An industry expert 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.
One of the copiers had documents still on the copier glass, from the Buffalo, N.Y., Police Sex Crimes Division.
It took the expert just 30 minutes to pull the hard drives out of the copiers. Then, using a forensic software program he ran a scan – downloading tens of thousands of documents in less than 12 hours.
The results were shocking including 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 a list of targets in a major drug raid was found. A third machine, from a New York construction company that contained design plans for a building near Ground Zero in Manhattan as well as 95 pages of pay stubs with names, addresses and social security numbers and $40,000 in copied checks.
The fourth machine from Affinity Health Plan, a New York insurance company contained the most disturbing documents including 300 pages of individual medical records. It had everything from drug prescriptions, to blood test results, to a cancer diagnosis. A serious breach of federal privacy law.
The Buffalo Police Department and the New York construction company declined comment when CBS . Affinity Health Plan, issued a statement that said they are taking the necessary steps to ensure that none of their customers’ personal information remains on other previously leased copiers, and that no personal information will be released inadvertently in the future.
The New Jersey warehouse where these copiers were stores contained two shipping containers packed with used copiers were headed overseas – loaded with secrets on their way to unknown buyers in Argentina and Singapore.
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