Before Tossing Those Electronic Gadgets Consider This
You’d be surprised to know that simply tossing away electronic gadgets can potentially inflict damage including large financial losses
In the age of hard drives and solid-state memory and its humongous capacity to store information, a lot of details about one’s self is actually stored in many different electronic devices. Therefore, throwing electronic devices indiscriminately and hastily can potentially leave one exposed to the headaches that result from having one’s identity stolen.
The use of technology in daily life has spawned various cases of identity theft. Identity theft protection is something to be vigilant of in this day and age.
Whether using electronic gadgets for personal use or for business, ensure that the data stored in these devices are safe. This is not just for personal benefit and protection, but for the clients’ and company’s reputation and safety, as well.
Here are tips on how to dispose electronic gadgets properly and how to employ identity theft protection effectively.
Before tossing that old Palm, Blackberry, iPhone, tablet, old computer, or any other device that may store information, be sure to do the following for identity theft protection.
- Delete all sensitive and private information from the hard drive / memory of all electronic office equipment to be disposed of.
Most people know that disposing or re-selling old laptops and smartphones requires deleting old data from these. After all, it is common sense to NOT want the next user to gain access to personal and business information contained within these. Yet many people fail to adequately remove sensitive information.
Many more are surprised to learn the same identity theft protection principle can apply to copiers, printers, and fax machines. More often than not, electronic devices like these, which were manufactured after around 2002, were equipped with high storage capabilities. This means that when these devices were used, digital information about users have been stored inside these devices.
When disposed of hastily and without deleting sensitive information from the hard drive / memory, traces of one’s identity and personal information may end up in the wrong hands.
These information includes tax returns, voided checks, driver’s license, social security card, client information, just to name a few.
Irresponsible disposal could get one’s business in trouble. How? One’s business could be slapped with HIPAA fines or lawsuits related to professional liability issues.
- Remove the hard drive from the electronic office equipment prior to throwing it away. This is common sense identity theft protection procedure that’s not often done. However, it only takes a minute to do so, so be sure to make it an official protocol.
- If a person has no time to remove the hard drive himself, enlist the help of an e-waste company which specializes in destroying hard drives and deleting data from these.
However, if a person is doing it himself, allow for sufficient time to overwrite files from hard drives. Overwriting simply means replacing data with random information to prevent hackers and identity thieves from rebuilding data contained within the hard drive. It is highly recommended to leverage multiple-pass overwriting which is more time consuming but does a better job of removing the data.
- Use the company’s own fax machine, printer, or copier instead of renting or using these from a third-party provider. This way, sensitive personal information of clients cannot be stored in public and vulnerable hard drives.
- Keep up-to-date on information regarding data breaches, vulnerabilities, and ways to employ identity theft protection.
Legally, businesses, whether big or small, are held financially accountable for data breaches of people’s sensitive personal information. When a company fails to protect their client’s sensitive personal information, hackers and thieves could take advantage of data that’s supposed to be private. Customers will most likely file a lawsuit because of the company’s professional negligence.
Be proactive in creating a comprehensive cyber risk management plan for the company and its clients so that it won’t get caught by surprise whenever a data breach does happen. Preparation and proactive identity theft protection saves the company and client from headache, and not to mention precious dollars, from lawsuits and profit losses.
It pays to keep the company’s reputation clean. On top of these tips, it is also good to invest in an insurance product such as appropriate professional liability coverage, or identity theft insurance which can help defray costs of expensive negligence law suits if ever these happen. In a wired world where data breaches, identity thefts, and cybercrimes frequently occur, it is best to invest time, effort, and resources in making sure the company data is always safe and secure.