I heard an interesting piece on the radio a few days ago that had to do with the risks of identity theft associated with using photocopiers. Basically, the report stated that if you use a fairly current photocopier to make copies of documents that contain personal information, you can be at risk of that information being used to steal your identity.

Is this a valid concern: Yes

The crux of the risk lies in the fact that many modern photocopiers (and multi-purpose machines) contain storage media like a hard drive on which document images are stored after the machine scans the document for reproduction. Because of this technology, if the documents are still on the copier’s storage media when the media is removed from the machine (for machines being scrapped, retired, even stolen), thieves may be able to print these stored documents and obtain that information.

Most copiers made in the last five years or so may contain their own storage media. According to the blurbs, the greatest risk may lie in business or retail copier locations where anyone who decides to go to the effort will have the largest probability of obtaining data that would be useful to them.

Some copier manufacturers are coming out with security fixes to write over data on the drive periodically but not all have done so and many people are not aware they exist.

My personal take on this is that there is, indeed, a risk but that it’s not something to fly off into a frenzy over. Consumers can reduce the risk by verifying that their copies are made where security fixes have been installed on the copiers or using a home scanner, copier or all-in-one machine that doesn’t retain data outside the user’s own control.

It’s another thing to be aware of in the all too trusting world.