Are Old Computers at Risk of Identity Theft?

Computer Identity Theft

Whether or not you believe in the value of electronics recycling, everyone wants to avoid identity theft.  Throwing out a PC, laptop, tablet, or phone with the trash can result in the loss of personal information that the bad guys are only happy to use against you.

Deleting your files and even reformatting your hard drive does not necessarily result in the permanent and irreversible destruction of data. Most often, the Delete command merely tells your device “this information is no longer needed, feel free to use the space over again when necessary.”  With a simple search online, anyone can find up to 20 FREE data recovery tools to reconstruct those deleted files.  For less than $50, professional software does an even better job.

A similar selection of tools exists for drives that have been reformatted.

If you think you destroyed your data by hitting the drive with a hammer or drilling a hole through it, think again.  You certainly made it more expensive to recover the information on your old computer, but if the bad guys suspect your device was used to store credit card information, a few thousand dollars in recovery costs might be worth 10X or 100X the expense.

electronic identity theftPutting the Pieces of your Personal Information Together

You may feel safe, considering that you didn’t keep any credit card, bank account, or much personal data on your computer. Don’t. In today’s world, partial information about you exists online and in many electronic systems, from credit cards and store accounts to e-news subscriptions and online phone directories. A few pieces of personal information from that old computer may allow an identity thief to pull information together and recreate your vital statistics.

What can identity thieves do once they have enough pieces of personal information?

  • Make a fraudulent credit card application
  • Order a new phone
  • Apply for a copy of a birth certificate

According to a CNBC article, some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year, a 16% increase since 2015.

How to Safely Destroy a Hard Drive

In Alabama, there’s one exceptional choice to assure that any outdated computer or electronic device is safely disposed of and that your personal information is securely destroyed.  That’s Protec Recycling.  Located in Birmingham, we specialize in hard drive shredding and electronics recycling.

For residential customers, we charge only $10 for hard drive shredding.*  Learn more on our Residential Services page. Of course, also recycle your electronics too, including TVs, monitors, and much more!

Want to learn more, call us today at 205-549-2120!

*Prices subject to change without notice.


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