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If I have confidential information on my computer system, what questions should I ask of the donation recipients regarding data destruction?

If you have decided to donate some of your unused computer equipment, one of the first things you will want to do is make sure any confidential information is deleted from your hard drive. If you accidentally leave any compromising information on your computer, you could very well wind up being a victim of identity theft. Even if you think you’ve deleted all of your sensitive files, it is very difficult to be sure. It’s nearly impossible to remember everywhere you’ve saved credit card information, online passwords, emails, social security numbers or any other critical information that you would not want to make public.

Donation Recipients

Donation recipients such as schools or nonprofit organizations may have refurbisher programs that will perform a complete hard drive wipe for you, but this may not always be enough. When you approach one of these organizations, ask if they perform this service and, if they do, ask what level of data destruction is provided.

If you decide to perform the hard drive wipe yourself, it’s not as simple as just going through and deleting every file on your computer. Even after deletion, many files can still be recovered by a person with the proper software and know-how. If these personal files contain any personal information, you could become a victim of identity theft. You would think that by simply deleting files or reformatting a hard drive that would be enough to securely destroy your data and protect your identity, but it isn’t.

Data Destruction Standards

When it comes to recycling your electronic devices in a secure manner, it is best to recycle with reputable recycling companies that provide data destruction that complies with DoD 5220.22-M or NIST 800-88 specifications. These standards offer the best forms of data security.

The importance of making sure your data is unrecoverable can’t be emphasized enough; many people fail to go through the proper steps when deleting their personal electronic data, and their computers retain recoverable information after they’ve donated them. Don’t risk compromising your personal data and become a victim of identity theft. Always use a professional electronics recycler that utilizes the highest data destruction standards.