Protect Personal Information From Dumpster Diving

Is your trash can a gold mine of personal information? When organizing, many people want to instantly throw away old documents. However, many of these old documents contain personal information that give out way to much personal information.

The growth of identity theft has raised concerns and awareness about the potential challenges associated with protecting personal information. Keeping data safe from thieves and protecting a personal identity requires more than taking measures to keep a computer safe and online purchases. It also requires protection against dumpster diving.

Basics of Dumpster Diving

According to, thieves are willing to go through the trash cans of Americans to find the hidden gems related to personal information. Since Americans throw out junk mail with sensitive details, it’s easy for a thief to steal the data and use it to take on the identity of another individual.

Although it’s simple to find information in the trash, it’s often overlooked while trying to protect information. Dumpster diving statistics suggest that a large percentage of identity theft is the direct result of finding information in the trash can. suggests that roughly 88 percent of identity theft in the U.S. occur from information found in a dumpster.

Who is Affected By Dumpster Diving

The impact of dumpster diving can occur on every level of society. According to, sensitive information is often found outside doctor’s offices, lawyer’s offices and banks. The type of information available in different dumpsters can vary based on the office, but enterprising thieves can find sensitive data in the trash can near those areas.

Beyond the basics of confidential data that are thrown away, thieves can also find information in personal trash cans, and dumpsters found in residential areas. Since consumers are likely to throw away junk mail, it’s possible for a theft to occur closer to home than many expect. An identity thief might dig through dumpsters in residential areas as well as the trash outside business offices.



Protecting Data From Dumpster Diving

Although the dumpster diving statistics can seem disturbing and concerning, it’s possible to protect against the potential theft. By taking measures to keep data safe before it’s discarded, it is easier to avoid or limit the risk of a theft.

According to, the easiest way to protect information from thieves rummaging through the garbage is by shredding personal data and papers before sending it out with the trash. Shredding the credit card offers, bank statements and other data that are sent through the mail will reduce the risk that the information is easy to pull from the documents.

While shredding documents sent to the house is a simple protective measure, it isn’t easy to keep documents at a lawyer’s office, doctor’s office or bank safe in the same manner. Protecting data at a business office will require asking questions about the disposal of information. Ask if the office shreds sensitive data before throwing it away.

Beyond the basics of shredding, the computer age requires a little extra measure to protect information. According to, it’s also important to wipe a computer hard drive or smartphone clean before throwing it away or sending it out to recycle. That will reduce the risk that sensitive data is pulled out of the hard drive after it’s thrown out.

Keeping personal information safe from identity thieves isn’t always as difficult as it might seem. Identity theft can occur from the most unlikely sources, but shredding documents and wiping hard drives clean before throwing it away will reduce the risk of a theft. When combined with other protective measures like credit monitoring, the risk to personal data is dramatically reduced.

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