Safeguard Your Personal Information

KKTV computer expert Louis Santiago took a look at a 4-year-old Dell computer we purchased at this pawn shop on North Academy Boulevard.

Much to our amazement, just by turning it on we found several personal financial documents about a Colorado Springs family.

We're talking a goldmine of information--resume, loan application, W-2 form--not to mention federal income tax return complete with four Social Security numbers.

On top of that, photographs: more than 1,800 of them.

Louis explains, "That's just extremely dangerous, especially this document."

It didn't take us long to track down the computer owner, a Colorado Springs mom named Courtney. Her address was attached to most of the papers.

I caught up with her outside her home and told her, "We came across a piece of property and want to see if it was yours because it had some information on it. It's a computer. Did you sell a computer?"

Courtney says, "Well, actually a friend of mine took it to his dad's house to get it fixed so now I'm questioning... Wow."

I told Courtney we bought the computer at a pawn shop for $180 and were surprised her personal papers, photographs, and financial documents hadn't been removed since signs inside the shop clearly state that's not the store's responsibility.

She says, "Oh my God. Oh my gosh. No really I'm shocked right now. I really am."

Chris Jones with PC Brokers told us, "He's going to have a field day with your Social Security number or anything else's that's on there."

We took the Dell to a local computer business and were told a lot of folks don't realize hard drives should be erased first and Windows reinstalled before they're sold or given away.

Chris says, "If you're going to pass along a computer, go through it, check your personal data."

I learned a technician will charge you about a hundred dollars to wipe and reload a computer, but I'm told the only way to be completely sure your information doesn't fall into the wrong hands is to put it through a hard drive shredder. At Blue Star Recyclers they charge $5 to do this.

Since Courtney didn't know her computer was "for sale" and wanted it back, we thought it was only right to give it back to her--along with a business card so she knows where to get it cleaned if she ever decides to sell it.

She told us, "I appreciate it. I really do."

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