Some quick facts from the OnGuard Online website:
Computers often hold all kinds of personal and financial information. If you’re getting rid of your old computer, there are things to do before you log off for the last time so your hard drive doesn’t become a 21st century treasure chest for identity thieves and information pirates.
- Save important files on an external storage device – for example, a USB drive, a CDRom, or an external hard drive – or transfer them to a new computer.
- “Wipe” your hard drive clean – use software available both online and in stores where computers are sold. They’re generally inexpensive; some are available on the Internet for free.
- If your old computer contains sensitive information that would be valuable to an identity thief, consider using a program that overwrites or wipes the hard drive many times. Or, remove the hard drive, and physically destroy it.
- If you use your computer for business purposes, check with your employer about how to manage business-related information on your computer. The law requires businesses to follow data security and disposal requirements for certain information that’s related to customers.
Once you have a “clean” computer, consider recycling, donating, or reselling it – and keep the environment in mind when disposing of your computer.
OnGuardOnline.gov provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.