Dumpster diving started gaining media attention after Jerry Schneider found discarded documentation on Pacific Telephone’s automated equipment delivery and ordering system in 1968. He used the system to order equipment which was then delivered to unstaffed locations. Schneider picked up the deliveries and amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in telephone equipment which he used to create his own company to sell some equipment back to Pacific Telephone. In 1972, Schneider was arrested. He started a security company in 1973 which he left in 1977. Do you know what a dumpster diver would find in your trash and recycling?
A quick Google search of “dumpster diving 2019” will turn up results like, “How much can I make in one night dumpster diving?,” “Is it legal to dumpster dive?,” “Where are the best places to go dumpster diving?” and other results that act like a veritable “how to” when it comes to sorting through trash. So it shouldn’t be surprising that personal information and company secrets end up for sale online as a result of dumpster diving or just sloppy disposal. Every two seconds an American is a victim of identity theft, and the corporate losses are just as staggering. Here are seven other identity theft statistics that will give some context around just how serious the problem is for people at home and at work.
Another way for your personal information to find its way into the wrong hands in 2019 is through the U.S. Mail. Yes, people still get snail mail. The latest scheme using the postal service involves “informed delivery,” a newer tool provided by the postal service allowing users to digitally preview their mail through email notification, online dashboard, or mobile app. The problem? At the end of 2018, more than two dozen Central Florida residents reported their identities were stolen, and then found their contact information used by impostors to register for informed delivery. Thieves have been able to intercept deliveries, mail and other items to profit off stolen identities.
So what can you be doing at home and at work to make sure your information is safer?
At home, you might want to consider safely disposing of anything that has your name and mailing address on it. All that direct mail that you’re used to putting in your recycling bin could go into a bag you take to a Shred Right shredding event for secure disposal. Or you could buy a sealable shred bag at one of our #ShredRight4Good events to put next to your garbage can and recycling bin. When it’s full, head to our events page or stop by our headquarters during #SaturdayShredding and bring your filled bag to have it securely shred for free.
At work, you might see shred bins that seem to hold sensitive documents, but do you know what you should be putting in them? If you’re not sure, can you ask an office manager or security officer about your company’s policy? Do you know if anything with a colleague’s name on it should be going in that bin? Or do you know what you should be doing with any document with any customer information on it? You can almost guarantee that if you’re wondering, someone else in your office is wondering too.
Because dumpster diving is still a “thing,” and arguably at least a hobby for some people in larger cities, each one of us should make it a priority to understand what’s happening in our bins at our curbs and our dumpsters at work. No, trash and recycling are not sexy, but neither is spending your day fighting to get your identity back after it’s compromised. We can’t stop dumpster divers, but we can certainly all help eliminate what they find!