SCAMwatch is warning Australians to erase their hard drive before parting with old computers and laptops. Simply deleting individual files is not enough to remove personal details, documents and passwords stored on the machine.

SCAMwatch has received reports that un-wiped hard drives are fast becoming a sought after item for scammers who can use them to access personal details and commit identity theft.

Whether you choose to sell your computer, give it away, throw it away, recycle it or give it to charity, you should ensure your hard drive has been erased first.

How to erase your hard drive

  • The best way to erase your hard drive is to use a software program which will do a thorough job. There are both paid and free software programs available for download online, but make sure you scan any software you download before installing it to make sure it doesn’t contain malware or spyware.
  • If you are throwing your computer away, you may wish to take out the hard drive and destroy it. This won’t erase the data but will prevent any chance of a scammer reading it.
  • Don’t believe the myth that a strong magnet will erase your hard drive.


You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

More information

View the Stay Smart Online Alert service for more information.

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Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's identity to steal money or gain other benefits.