We all have used photocopiers at some stage to copy personal documents when applying for loans, rental accommodation, passports, etc. What a lot of people don’t realise is that most photocopiers use a hard drive to build the image of the document that they are replicating for you, and then don’t necessarily delete that image once you have completed your photocopying. This also applies for to the multi-function photocopiers that people use in offices to send faxes.
The following CBS investigation (from back in June 2012) details just how easy it is for ANYONE to purchase a second hand machine and gain access to this stored sensitive data.
Whilst there is no a lot that you can do to force the various institutions that we deal with to improve their security policies on these things, you can try and reduce your own risk.
My recommendation would be that if you are planning on copying private documents (eg photocopying your driver’s license or credit cards for any sort of application) either use a scanner (yours or one that belongs to a trusted friend) to scan the documents in, and then print them. Take note that if you do this you may also have to check that the scanned image is deleted from the computer that you have used to perform the scanning (unless you use one of the simpler home multi-function printers).
I know that all of this may sound a little paranoid to some of you but at the end of the day, you are responsible for how secure your personal details are, so try to do what you can to protect yourself.