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These days an unprecedented amount of personal information is stored on computers. Canny scammers readily look for ways to grab this information for their personal advantage.

Anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spyware software and other protective mechanisms are recommended to be used to protect both general and financial information. But there is something else to be mindful of.

When you throw out an old computer, your personal information continues to live on your hard drive unless you wipe it clean or destroy it.

Unwiped hard drives are becoming a sought after item for scammers who are able to access your personal details. Before parting with old computers and laptops, it is a good idea to erase your hard drive.

Simply deleting individual files is not enough to remove private details, passwords and documents stored on your machine.

There are two ways you can minimise the risk of being scammed through your thrown out computer.

1. Erase your hard drive

To ensure your hard drive is erased properly it is best to use a software program.

There are software programs available for download online, both paid and free. When using a software program, make sure you scan it before downloading and installing to make sure it doesn’t contain malware or spyware.

2. Physically destroy the hard drive

An alternative to erasing your hard drive is to physically destroy it:

  • Take the hard drive out of your computer, making sure it is turned off before commencing. If you don’t know what you are looking for ask a technologically savvy friend, do some research      online or phone your local computer store.
  • Then you can use a number of ways to destroy it. Some suggest drilling holes in it. Others suggest dipping it in salt water or acid, but we are unaware of how effective these approaches are.
  • Another approach is to take a hammer to it. If you take this approach, be sure to wear protective eyewear and to damage the platter on the inside as that is where the data is stored.
  • Using a hammer may also help you let go of any frustrations that the old computer influenced.
  • Destroying the hard drive in this way won’t erase the data but will prevent a scammer from being able to read it.