Photocopy or Identity theft ??

When it comes to the digital era, you are nothing but a unique collection of data. Every mobile application, social platform, or any digital and physical authority will recognize you only by the collection of data you present in front of them. Now imagine if someone else replicated a similar set of data then it becomes difficult for any authority to differentiate between original and replicated one. Probably you will end up getting punished for someone else’s sin. Nowadays your government ID (Adhar number, PAN number, Social security number, etc) works as a primary key and can reflect all the associated data. Most of the time we are more aware when we are submitting our data on digital platforms, but the same awareness can’t be seen when we are exchanging sensitive documents physically.

I would like to highlight a very small scenario that can be a major reason for your identity theft or data breach in the physical world. We all are aware of the photocopy machines and most of us visit photocopy shops to take the copy of documents including ID cards, banking docs and statements, tax docs, college mark sheets, and other sensitive information. We freely handover our most important documents to the shop owners without thinking twice about the repercussions of our actions. In this modern technology, printers and photocopy machines are getting advanced integrated with the capability to store scanned information. This facility was introduced to reproduce the documents multiple times in one scan. But every ease-to-use facility comes with security flaws. In 2006, Humby coined the phrase “Data is the new oil” and I completely agree with the fact that if you own data you own that person too.

Probably the owner of your corner shop is not as intelligent as Mark Zuckerberg that he can use your data to generate high revenue but he can sell your data for a cheap price.

Now you know how the call centers, credit card dealers, scammers, and spam messages got your contact information. I do remember that I was once approached by some company employees seeking contact information of the college students during my bachelor’s in 2014. They were offering me Rs. 2 for each contact at that time, I do wonder what would be the rate in 2021. You should know that data scavengers are roaming all around you, one little mistake, and your ID won’t be a unique one.

Some tips to protect your docs from data scavengers:

1- For the copy of very sensitive documents avoid using public photocopiers.

2- For an office environment, it is necessary to have their private photocopier so that employees don’t have to visit shops.

3- If you are using a public photocopier, don’t be afraid to ask about the security measures of the machine.

4- Before disposing of the photocopier make sure you scrub all the data from hard drives.

5- Office should use the encryption software for photocopiers to avoid the leakage of data into the wrong hands.

6- Most of the offices take the photocopier on the lease, make sure you erase the hard drives when the lease date is closer.

7- Make sure that the photocopier owner is not making multiple copies of your documents.

8- Don’t hesitate in reporting any of the illegal activity you witnessed on any photocopier.

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