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Do not just throw it out: How to protect the environment and your personal data



As the popularity of the Internet and electronic devices continues to grow, so does the number of sites where cybercriminals can find – and steal – our personal information. The increase in unit ownership also creates a huge amount of e-waste. The World Economic Forum estimates that the world currently produces 50 million tonnes of e-waste each year and can reach 120 million tonnes by 2050.1

More consumers are doing their part to protect the environment by recycling or donating old electronics and recycling paper-based documents. However, you must be vigilant in protecting personal information displayed on recycled items so that it cannot be used in identity fraud against you. increases.2 New account fraud occurs when fraudsters open new accounts under a victim's name using data they have stolen from paper documents or online devices to defraud banks and other companies. Losses due to new account fraud increased last year, especially for car loans, student loans and mortgages. 3 In addition, fraudsters become skilled at taking over mobile phone accounts to capture alerts and one-time passwords sent by text message.

Do not just throw it away – protect personal data before recycling
According to the Department of Homeland Security, consumers should follow best practices for disposing of electronic devices to prevent accidental disclosure of sensitive information that could be exploited by cybercriminals and fraudsters.4 Smartphones , computers and tablets are the most obvious places where identity thieves can find personal information. , but you should also permanently destroy, delete or disinfect the following items before recycling or donating:

• Digital media – items that digital cameras and media players create, store and play digital content that fraudsters can use to learn more about potential victims .
• External hardware and peripherals – printers, monitors and external hard drives contain permanently stored important characters that can give identity thieves a treasure chest.
• Paper-based documents – it is important to clear bills, spam, correspondence from medical facilities or your child's school and other paper statements before putting them in the recycling bin.

Fraudsters can use a partial account number, bank name and other information to open new accounts in the victim's name.

Save the environment and the earth's valuable resources
It is important to recycle old electronic devices to keep toxic metals out of landfills and save valuable resources such as metals and minerals. For example, mobile phones contain copper, silver, gold and palladium that can be harvested and reused in the production of new devices. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, it is also important to recycle paper because each ton of recycled paper saves 3.3 cubic meters of landfill.

When considering how you can save natural resources and help the environment, do not forget to protect your personal information. Do your part and be proactive by disinfecting electronic devices before disposing of them and tearing paper-based documents before putting them in the trash.

1 "A New Circular Vision for Global Electronics," World Economic Forum, January 2019
"Identity Fraud 2019: Frauds Seek New Goals and Victims Carry the Weight," Javelin Strategy and Research.
3 Ibid.
4 CISA, Department of Homeland Security, "Security Tips: ST18-005," last revised November 2019

Blog Content with permission from CyberScout. © 2021 CyberScout, LLC

Copyright © 2021 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.


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