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Desktop\It’s Easy, and Expensive, to Forget About Old Equipment


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DOES the Panasonic phone that is gathering dust in your basement still work? Where did you store the Dell monitor your brother gave you after he acquired a wide-screen Samsung? Whatever happened to your original computer — the one you used to write the first draft of the Great American Novel?

Stuart Isett for The New York Times

Thomas Watson, president of Asset Management International, with an 'Asset Track' device, which tracks technology equipment, including computers and phones, for companies.

If millions of Americans have trouble keeping track of the technology equipment they have accumulated over the years, companies large and small find the task so daunting that many do not even try.

But sloppy inventory control can cause major headaches for companies. In January, the credit card company GE Money USA reported that a computer tape that contained personal data about 650,000 customers had disappeared. In 2006, within the space of a few weeks, the Veterans Affairs Department lost both a laptop computer with information on millions of soldiers and veterans and a desktop computer that contained medical records of 38,000 patients.

Thomas Watson, president and co-founder of Asset Management International, a small Seattle company that tracks the flow of information technology equipment and other fixed assets into, around and out of corporate and government buildings, said the problems are far broader than the well-publicized data losses. Companies that fail to keep track of their technology assets face potential tax and legal consequences


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