Last week, CBS News released an investigative report that revealed how documents with private information were accessed from the hard drives of used photocopiers. Compromised data included internal documents from the sex crimes division of law enforcement, payroll information, and health and medical records.
There's no doubt that wealth management firms across the country are subject to this same risk. Many are just not aware that images of photocopied and scanned documents are stored on a machine's internal hard drive. If one does know about the document storage, copier manufacturers do not make it easy to permanently delete the stored images (one manufacturer charged an extra $500 for the special feature to enable hard drive deleting!).
The lesson to take away from this report is to always follow a procedure to ensure sensitive information is permanently deleted from office hardware before removing it from your firm. This applies to any imaging hardware, including photocopiers, scanners, and fax machines.
If the stored images are not deleted, your firm could be exposed to significant liability if any client information is subesquently obtained and used for nefarious purposes.