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Disposing of an Old Computer Properly to Prevent Identity Theft

Insurance agents frequently receive calls about identity theft protection. This crime needs to concern every American, as The Harris Poll reports 60 million individuals have already fallen victim to a theft of this kind. While it is beneficial to have this type of policy in the event your identity is stolen, agents state the best protection is prevention.

People often guard their credit cards and shred papers to make certain their personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. However, these same people may dispose of a computer without stopping to consider the personal information contained on this device. How should a person properly dispose of a computer to protect their identity and information? Why should a person have identity theft protection even when they take the necessary steps?

Back Up All Files

The first thing a person should do is back up all files on the computer. This information may be needed at a future time, and an external hard drive or flash drive is a great option. Obviously, the files may also be moved to the new device. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have a backup of important files at all times.

Individuals often assume deleting the files will be enough to protect their identity but that isn’t the case. A person experienced with computers can easily retrieve the files, and this is true even when the files have been moved to the recycle bin and then deleted. Unfortunately, countless people take this step and assume they are protected. It isn’t until their identity is stolen that they realize they have a problem if they are even able to determine that this is where the information was accessed.

Clean or Destroy the Hard Drive

Programs are available to permanently delete the files, and this is a good option when the device will be donated rather than disposed of. A program of this type wipes the files from the hard drive and then overwrites the drive, ensuring the information cannot be retrieved. However, plan ahead in this situation as removing these files can take an extended period of time, hours or possibly even days.

In the event the computer will be trashed, the hard drive may be destroyed as opposed to having the files deleted. There are several ways to destroy the drive and guarantee the files cannot be retrieved. One way to do so is to drill holes in the hard drive, asthis ensures the information cannot be accessed.

Another option is to smash the hard drive, but care must be taken when this solution is used. Disconnect the power source and remove the hard drive from the device before proceeding. Be sure to wear goggles and gloves to protect the hands and face when destroying the hard drive also. Take a hammer to the device and hit it repeatedly to damage the disc inside the drive, and don’t overlook the ports when hammering. By destroying the ports, you can prevent someone from trying to access the device this way.

Sadly, criminals continually find new ways to access the personal information of others. For this reason, a person cannot be too careful. Contact your insurance agent today to learn more about identity theft protection and why it is essential today. You may never need this protection but having it in place will give you peace of mind as you go about your day using credit cards, mobile devices, and more. No price can be put on this peace.

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