Dumpster Diving

Dumpster Diving is a Potential Threat to Personal Identifiable Information (PII).  PII is not only found on your computer or your phone.  It can be retrieved from some of the most unlikely places.  Your trash is one of the most widely used places to steal personal Information. We generate many documents and materials daily, many of which contain sensitive and personal information. While we may diligently secure our digital lives, it’s crucial not to overlook the physical.  One of our most underestimated risks is the presence of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) in our trash. Dumpster diving is a practice where individuals search through discarded items, and it can result in identity theft or fraud if your PII falls into the wrong hands. Dumpster diving is not a new concept and doesn’t require high-tech equipment. Individuals engaged in this practice simply sift through trash bins and dumpsters to find valuable information, including PII. Here are some reasons why this can be a threat:

TIPS Protecting Your PII from Trash-Based Threats

Shred Documents: Invest in a cross-cut shredder and use it to destroy sensitive documents before discarding them. This includes financial statements, medical records, and personal information documents.

Secure Mail and Packages: Retrieve mail promptly, especially during vacations. Leaving mail in an unattended mailbox can be a treasure trove for identity thieves.

Dispose of Electronics Safely: Don’t throw away old devices like smartphones, laptops, or hard drives without securely wiping their data or destroying them beyond recovery.

Monitor Credit Reports: Regularly check your credit reports for unusual activity. Some identity theft attempts may become evident through discrepancies in your credit history.

Use a Locking Trash Bin: Consider using a locking trash bin to make it more challenging for potential dumpster divers to access your trash.

Be Cautious with Junk Mail: Junk mail also contains personal information. Shred or destroy credit card offers, pre-approved loans, or other documents that may have your PII.

Educate Household Members: Ensure that everyone in your household understands the importance of securely safeguarding PII and disposing of documents.

At the end of the day, you can never be cautious about sharing personal information on social media or elsewhere. The less data you expose, the less there is to exploit. Dispose of Receipts Securely: Don’t throw away receipts, especially those from credit card transactions.  Invest in a cross-cutting shredder or reputable shredder service. 


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