Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft: Copy Machines

Have you ever gone to the local copy shop or office supply store to make photo copies? Do you copy sensitive documents at work? Do you think your insurance company has ever copied your medical information?

Nearly every digital photo copier manufactured since 2002 includes a digital hard drive to save information that is scanned, copied or emailed. Most of us have made photo copies at the local copy shops. Tax records, birth certificates, bank records, and so much more. We copy, we pay and we head out on our way. Giving no thought to the fact that every copy we made was saved to a hard drive on that machine. No thinking that our information could potentially be at risk.

The above video by CBS news Armen Keteyian exposes the security risk that is often over looked not just by each of us but by major companies and government agencies. Most offices use copiers with a hard drive, and often they are leased and returned after just a few years.

5 things you can do to protect your personal information

1. Buy a copier for your home if you often need to copy sensitive information.

2. Scan your information into a computer that has security precautions you can put on the documents.

3. Check with your local copy shop to determine if they use encryption or security kits to ensure that scanned documents are no permanently stored to the hard disk.

4. Share this information with people within your company so they can take steps to protect sensitive information for the company, its employees and customers.

5. Ask questions – if you have to give your photo ID or other sensitive information to a business or government agency ask what practices are in place protecting your identity.

If you believe you may have been a victim of identity theft, contact your local police and the Federal Trade Commission.

How do you protect your identity? Share your tips!

For other articles about the legal implications of being online, check out my series on blog law and online rights.

Disclosure: While I am a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. Posts on legal matters are intended to provide legal information and do not create an attorney/client relationship. This post is part of my Blog Law Series.


Author: Sara

Sara is a life-long dreamer, creating a list of things she wants to do "someday". Realizing there is no "someday" on the calendar she's taking the steps to make her somedays a reality. Between saving for retirement and college and paying for all the usual things, many women find that they're often putting their hopes and dreams on hold. Saving For Someday is Sara's way of encouraging women everywhere to find ways to save on the ordinary so they can do the extraordinary. Sara is also a licensed attorney and writes about legal issues affecting bloggers, content creators and online professionals. This blog is for informational purposes only. You can also find me on Google+

6 thoughts on “Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft: Copy Machines”

  1. Hi Sara,

    Thank you for posting this. I did not know this. We do own a copier/scanner, but there have been occasions where I have had important documents scanned elsewhere. I won’t be doing this in the future. Thank you for such an informative post.


    1. Hello Honey,

      Thank you for stopping by today. I’m glad I was able to share information that can help you.


  2. i know two people who had their identity’s stolen. the one was one of the first persons in the US to have it happen. she was interviewed on 60 minutes years ago. took over 10 years to sort out the problem. we cannot be too careful. you also need to check your credit report regularly to find out if any credit cards have been opened in your name. i think people are also very casual about all those junk mails offers they get to apply for credit cards. you need to shred those–people have gotten scammed by someone else applying for it — what a world we live in. thanks for this post. very important.

    1. Diane,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your friend’s experience. You’re right that often we are too cavalier with our personal information. I was floored when I found out that using a copy machine could compromise my or my client’s information. Yes, checking credit reports is vital too. I’ll be doing a post on that as well. I try to do one quarterly as a reminder.

      I appreciate your visiting my blog, and I hope you are doing well.


  3. Oh my…I would have never even thought about it…and I think I am careful. We do have a copier at home…must use it more!

    1. Holly,

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m so glad you were able to learn something and now can protect yourself and your family a little more.


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