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BBB warns on printer disposal: It could hold sensitive info

Sending and receiving information digitally is the norm in society today. In most cases, consumers and businesses are diligent about deleting personal information from devices such as phones and computers before disposing of them. But there’s one device that is too easy to forget about – printers, and their hard drives that store some of our most sensitive data.

“At some point, everyone uses a printer for personal documents,” said Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific. “It is critical that the personal information that stays on a printer’s hard drive doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands.”

Commercial printers are often re-leased or resold, so it’s important to securely wipe the machine clean of sensitive information. Especially if a business is in a regulated industry that must comply with regulations, like HIPAA or FACTA .

Check the equipment’s manual on the how-to wipe clean. For leased machines: check the service contract.
Remove the hard drive and either digitally rewrite or overwrite the data or physically destroy it.
Many copiers have a hard drive overwrite or wipe function.
Reformat the hard drive(s).
Clear any captured data like emails or network information.

Home printers may store such items as birth certificates, income tax forms, bank statements. Keeping personal information secure is essential.

Personal printers generally have smaller storage space, but it’s important to wipe it clean before selling or getting rid of it:

Check for any external storage, like SD card readers.
To purge temporary memory, unplug your printer for 60 seconds or more.
Long-term memory, is erased after more jobs are completed.
Check your manual on step to perform a factory reset.

Throughout the month of October, BBB will release cyber safety tips and articles to help consumers and businesses stay vigilant. Articles and a cybersecurity toolkit for small businesses can be found at

KTVZ 2019

KTVZ News Team


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