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January 23--  You may have never thought about it, but your office copier is a treasure trove of information for identity thieves.

"Copiers that have been manufactured in the last decade possess the capability to store digital images," according to Guy Shifflett, an Information Security Specialist at Fort Stewart.

"What we may not realize is these copier machines may have a disc drive that will store images of the documents.  The upside is we can go back and retrieve a document and print it, but the vulnerability is this may lead to the disclosure of personal information and identity theft," he warns.

Shifflett notes a CBS News investigative report that demonstrates the danger. "They went to a warehouse in New Jersey which contained thousands of used copiers waiting to be resold.  Four machines were bought and they used a free software program to download tens of thousands of personal documents.  Among their findings were 95 pages of pay stubs with names, addresses with social security numbers, $40,000 in copied checks and 300 pages that contained medical records," he recounts.

His advice:  "Before disposing of or trading in your copier, check with your vendor to understand the process and steps to erase the information which may be contained on your copy machine.  One option is the actual removal and destruction of the hard drive itself," Shifflett says.