If your old PC is getting clunky (technical term!) and needs replacing or you just fancy a new one, make sure you don’t leave personal information on the old one. We look at why, including the risk of identity theft.
Just think about the amount of emails we generate – you might not be passing your Bank Account details but you could have a lot of personal information in them, very useful for criminals to gain an insight into you, your family and general lifestyle.
Then there are all the letters and correspondence you’ve generated in Word. What about your budget details in Excel?
Very quickly you start to get a picture of the depth of personal information on your PC.
Even if you’re not getting rid of your old PC, it could be time to consider buying Identity Fraud Protection insurance, just in case your personal information does find its way into criminal hands.
Back to your old PC. Judging by the number of second-hand computers, bought from the likes of eBay, that still have personal data on them, it seems that many people are not aware of the importance of destroying or removing this personal information before they sell or dispose of their old PCs.
Even if you think you have deleted the information in many cases the data can be retrieved using specialist software – or in some cases it can be retrieved with not so specialist, free software available via the internet. How easy does this make it for the would-be criminal?
By leaving this information behind, you are exposing yourself to the risk of identity theft. This happens when criminals get hold of various personal details which allow them to open bank accounts, get credit cards or loans and get legal documents, such as passports and driving licences, all fraudulently using your name.
Criminals can also potentially use the personal online account information left on the computer to hijack your exisiting bank or online credit card or savings accounts. Masquerading as you they can make unauthorised transactions.
You can take steps to protect your personal information, both on your computer and elsewhere. We’ll shortly publish another article on our suggested simple steps to take to make sure you do wipe the information from your old PC.
Meantime, it’s advisable to regularly check your credit report so you can spot unfamiliar activity, such as a fraudulent loan or credit card application in your name.
You can also buy Identity Fraud Protection Insurance quickly and easily online – at just £19.99, including a 20% discount for MoneyHighStreet.com readers, it’s well worth considering.