How to Prevent Dumpster Divers from Stealing Your Identity


Most individuals hastily dispose paper documents that might contain sensitive information because they are not aware of the possible dangers that come with identity theft and fraud. Even documents such as junk mail, old bank statements or even personal correspondence should be properly disposed, as every piece of paper, however negligent and insignificant, will always contain personal information about yourself that can put you at risk.

What is dumpster diving?

Dumpster diving is the act of going through another person’s trash to retrieve something that can be used or sold. While this is highly applicable for tangible items such as appliance, furniture and clothing, this can also refer to the malicious act of extracting personal information from confidential waste (i.e. medical records, bills, tax information) so that information can be misused, abused or sold.

Once another person maliciously possesses your personal information, the criminal can use this information to create new accounts, funnel money from your other existing accounts or even manipulate personal aspects of your life.

Dumpster diving is potentially life threatening, and as such, you should take explicit measures to ensure that you will not fall victim to identity theft and fraud.

How can you protect your identity?

The increasing occurrence of identity theft and similar crimes suggests that document shredding should be instigated as a common practice not only for business, establishments and conglomerates but also for homes.

Clearly, the best way to ensure that dumpster diving thieves do not gather your personal information is to shred every piece of paper you plan to dispose. Take note that shredding does not mean tearing a document into tiny pieces. It means disintegrating it completely, so that its pieces are impossible to put back together.

Below are examples of documents that must be disposed of properly to ensure privacy of personal information:

  • Monthly Payroll
  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • ATM Deposit and Withdrawal Slips
  • Retirement Account Statements
  • Tax Returns
  • Periodic Trade Confirmations

You may choose to purchase your own paper shredder, but you can also outsource your shredding tasks as well. Your best protection is to hire a shredding service so that they can dispose all your sensitive documents and confidential paper work properly. In addition, they also ensure that your information cannot be recovered as the commingled material is taken to a recycling mill immediately for further processing.