NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Throwing away an older fax machine could put your personal information at risk.

Fax machines are an easy and fast way to send some of your most important documents.

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Ned Eldridge is the CEO of eLoop, one of the largest certified recyclers of e-waste in Pennsylvania. His facilities handle a million pounds of e-waste each month. Some of the items that come through eLoop are thermal fax machines which are loaded with personal data.

“We got social security numbers, we got names, we got addresses, so if you wanted to pretend to be somebody you have all their personal information,” Eldridge told CBS2’s Susan Koeppen.

With thermal fax machines all you need to do is open them up and pull out an ink ribbon, then you can read anything that went through the machine. Just like a carbon copy.

At eLoop, personal information gets destroyed, but when thermal fax machines get tossed in the trash or sold online to make a few bucks, that personal information can easily end up in the wrong hands.

“Within minutes we were able to unravel the film and find personal data,” Eldridge said.

CBS2 purchased several fax machines from Craigslist, spending less than $20 on each. All of them had personal information.

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One machine provided names, addresses, and social security numbers. It also had tax documents and financial statements.

Bob and Linda Collins’ thermal fax machine is just the type that identity thieves are looking for, cheap and easy to find as consumers try to get ride of them.

“It’s pretty scary,” Bob said, “It’s crazy that you can get all that information that easily. I mean you didn’t even have to work that hard to get it.”

If you have a thermal fax machine and you’re getting rid of it take out the ribbon and shred it.



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