Thieves are now targeting old copy machines that have been thrown out.
Their hard drives hold information that could put you in jeopardy.
You scan your driver's license to make copies for a new job.
This process stores that image in the machine's hard drive, the perfect tool for an identity thief.
Once businesses throw out their copiers, these criminals take the hard drives, along with your personal information.
“They way these things work, although the image is no longer being used or it may have been deleted the file stays on the drive until the drive actually needs that space so it will continue to cycle...so that can be days, that can be months, that can be years before it is actually erasing everything that is one the hard drive.” Dothan Police Department Investigator Tim Mullis said.
“Nationwide we see that identity theft is a very dominant trend the FBI says its quickly becoming the number one type of investigation just because of the sheer numbers.” Dothan Police Department Rachel David said.
Officers say if your business or home has a copier, you should make a plan to destroy the hard drive before you throw it away.
“The safest thing if you are going to throw a piece of equipment away like this, actually take the hard drive out and I’ve seen people be as extreme as sawing it in half at the very least take a strong magnet and run it over the top and bottom of the hard drive.” Mullis said.
Another option would be to take it to a store that sells copy machines.
Ask them to wipe your hard drive clean.
But because you can’t always control how a business disposes of their hard drives, it’s important to find a way to protect yourself.
“Having something in place that will assist you in early detection of id theft and assist you in the process of correcting if you are to become a victim is good.” David said.
Companies like Lifelock or Zanders are two resources that will alert you if something suspicious pops up with your accounts or credit history.
Officers say it only takes someone with moderate computer knowledge to hack into a hard drive.