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Thieves’ new weapon: copy machines

Digital Copy machines are not only a part of essential equipment in every office, company, library and every college campus, but they have also become the new modern weapon for identity thieves. Many college students who use these machines do not know how their personal information can fall into the hands of the wrong people.

“We have a total of 70 office and coin copy machines around campus which are supplied by Document Solution Inc,” said Coordinator of Mail and Duplication services Dustin Felcman.

Digital copy machines have a hard drive and every document photocopied goes to the hard drive. People copy bank accounts, medical bills and more personal information that goes to the hard drive of that copy machine.

Many copy machines have just a few security features. The problem does not start when a private or public company gets a copy machine, but when this company decides to replace or dispose of the old copy machine. The new owners will not only have access to the information saved in the hard drive if it was not properly wiped clean.

“When we pick a machine up and bring it to our place, before it is assigned to any other location, we initiate the hard drives on those machines to make sure all the information is kept private,” said Stephen Hampton, Service Manager at East Texas Copy Solutions.

Because the information on many copy machines is not encrypted compared to a PC, it is ripe for identity theft. The information in some copy machine are so accessible; the program to obtain all the information is easily found on the internet. The information found on a copy machine could be more personal than the information found on a PC. Also, the amount of personal information stored in a single copy system could be extremely high and affect hundreds of people.

“We do not have many young people coming because their accounts have a possible identity theft. This is not because it is not happening; but, it is because young people do not check their credit reports on a regular basis or just because they do not know at what dimension this affects their financial future,” said Samuel Mejorado, Assistant Vice President and Banking Officer at Prosperity Bank.

According to mail and duplication ser- vices at TJC, all the copy machine equipment for TJC is obtained through Documents Solution Inc. After any copy machine is exchanged or out of service, they call Xerox Company to take care of the product; at this point Xerox is responsible for the equipment. Mail and duplication services at TJC do not know what happens with all the information in a hard drive after Xerox picks up a copy machine from TJC.


“Along with technology, thieves are find- ing new ways to steal identities and we come up with better ways to prevent this from happening,” Robert Baker, Solution Group at East Texas Copy Solutions.


Many people may not have access to a used copy machine from a warehouse, but anyone can have access to a web page like eBay where a number of products are used. 



According to a quick search on eBay, for every 567 copy machines for sale, more than 180 are used and 290 do not specify. The high demand for used copy machines is increasing due to its cheaper price and huge market, which gives a large number of options. At the same time the risk of identity theft increases dramatically.


“We have multiple options for securing hard disk drive data, like encryption, over- write kits, removable hard drive and replacement of the hard drive,” said Baker.


According to canon.com, as a standard security measure Canon offers hard disk drive format features to prevent thieves from getting access to personal information.


According to identitytheft.com, there are four steps to protect customers from iden- tity theft. Do not use a public copy or fax machines for sensitive information. Buy your own photocopy machine with sufficient security features. Use passwords to protect information you copy and purchase an encryption component for any copy machine.


For more information call mail and duplication services at (903) 510-2415.

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