Thousands of second-hand computer disk drives still contain personal information, a study by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has found.
After purchasing more than 200 drives from websites such as eBay it said 11% still contained sensitive details.
It also searched 20 memory sticks and 10 mobile phones and recovered 34,000 files, including scanned bank statements, passports, information on previous driving offences and medical details.
Within the machines collected, 48% had some information left on them and at least two had enough data left on them to enable the previous owners' identities to be stolen.
A separate study by the ICO also discovered that 65% of people now pass on their old electronic equipment such as mobile phones, computers and laptops to other people, and one in 10 have never wiped a machine before getting rid of it.
"Today's findings show that people are in danger of becoming a soft touch for online fraudsters simply because organisations and individuals are failing to ensure the secure deletion of the data held on their old storage devices," says the information commissioner Christopher Graham.
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