Identity theft is a growing problem all over the world. According to Lifelock.org, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. This is because thieves are finding more and more ways to get to your personal information. There are a number of ways to do this — hacking into your computer, spying on you at an ATM or post office, pickpocketing your identification — but, one of the most common and odd ways that identity thieves obtain the personal information of their targets, is by dumpster diving.
This isn’t a new extreme sport: thieves will go into the dumpsters outside of homes, apartment complexes and businesses and find personal information that has been thrown into the bins, which is easy to copy and use for the purpose of pretending to be you while they steal online.
According to a report in Bloomberg, about 40 percent of the trash banks around Sydney, Australia that were searched by detectives contained personal information of individuals that could be easily stolen. There are no laws truly to protect against dumpster diving and in some places, like Australia it’s illegal for the police to confiscate. This means that a city dump or recycling plant is a veritable gold mine of personal information for just about anyone.
So how do you protect yourself from identity theft with this growing trend in dumpster diving? A few tips are listed below.
Buy a shredder and shred every piece of paper or card with your personal information that you’re throwing away. This will make it very difficult if not impossible for a thief to put the details of your personal information back together, and it’s probably not worth their time anyway. Shredders are cheap, lower priced than a printer that you can buy at an office supply store. At the very least, tear envelopes into a number of pieces before you throw them away.
Keep a Lock on Your Dumpster
If you have a dumpster behind your place or trash cans in front, keep a simple combination lock on it. This will keep the majority of casual thieves away and really force someone to use some effort and look conspicuous while they steal information from a garbage can. If you’re in an apartment complex, just let your landlord and other tenants know you plan to put a lock on the dumpster and tell them the combo. Or get a shredder, as mentioned above, and separate the pieces.
Check out the Businesses With Your Personal Information
If you go to a doctor, make sure they have a lock on their dumpster to keep people from stealing personal information. If they don’t get one, you always have the option of not being their patient if you’re worried about your information being stolen. Banks are less of a concern because they’re businesses that take security very seriously. However, for every other business out there that may have personal information of yours, make sure they monitor trash receptacles properly, to keep one from becoming a victim.
Ink It Out
You can always ink out the important information. This will make it truly impossible for an identity thief to steal papers from a dumpster and get your information, even if they take the time to piece it together. In short, if you’re willing to take the time out of your schedule, you can protect yourself from thieving dumpster divers.