Monday, May 10, 2010

So, You Think Your Private Information Is Private? Think Again...

I recently had a friend of mine in the banking industry send me a link the the following YouTube video. As you will see, it shares some disturbing information on how your personal information can actually remain on copiers since they are basically computers with their own hard drives. While many organizations may think that once you make a copy it's a "one-time" thing, the reality is this information is likely stored on the copier, which doesn't pose a security risk until that copier is traded in for the next-best model.

The reason I'm posting this here is that another friend of mine (who is also very technically-adept) recently shared an experience with his Facebook friends about having to go through the process of defending an Identity Theft situation where his information was stolen. The comments from his wall from some of the "non-techie" folks asked what could be done to keep this from happening to them. The unfortunate reality is NOTHING can be done to prevent Identity Theft. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE.

As you will see from the video below, the unsuspecting folks that trusted their information to the previous owners of these copiers had their information "stolen" for about $300 and 12 hours of time using free software available off the Internet. In my comment on my friend's Facebook page I suggested that everyone use www.annualcreditreport.com and check for inconsistencies and items on their credit reports (this is the free site that allows you to get one copy of your report from all the major bureaus once per year). There are also services out there that can monitor your credit history for you, which may also be worth it.

From my experience as a banker and seeing this happen to my customers, the only advice that I can offer anyone that gets hit with an ID theft situation is to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT everything that you do from the minute you realize something has happened. I'd suggest getting a notebook dedicated to the issue and log dates, times, phone numbers called, people you talked to, badge/employee ID numbers and anything else you can get your hands on during the dispute process. It won't be easy, but the more information you have, the better in the long run.

Sorry to be a web blanket here, but the reality is with information being held in so many different places by so many different organizations, it's no longer under our control who has and what happens to our information. Opt out of the things you can, remain diligent that you keep what you can private, but don't be so naive to think that it cannot happen to you.... because it can. Hope you "enjoy" the video below and please don't shoot the messenger. Eric

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