Why Dumpster Divers Love DIY Shredding

I Prefer to Do It Myself

Closeup photo of document shredder with paper shreds on tableI’m the type of person who will not call a repair person or any kind of reno company unless it is either beyond my skills or I’ve started something I can’t finish. I am not paying for someone to do something I can do myself or look up on the internet. Most times it’s cheaper unless you run into problems.

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

A Line in the Sand

There are some things that just shouldn’t be tackled on your own. These are often things that affect the safety or security of yourself and others, and for that reason, are usually governed by laws.

As simple as it seems, shredding documents falls into that category. Here’s why.

The Law Has Restrictions

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) requires that “any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose must properly dispose of such information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal.”

FACTA’s “reasonable measures of disposal” include implementing and monitoring policies and procedures that require the destruction of papers with consumer information so the information can’t be read or reconstructed. Penalties for violation can be up to $1000 per violation at the state level and $2500 at the federal level. These fines could be calculated for each client or customer, making the overall financial penalty potentially crippling.

Your Process Is Likely Flawed

  1. One naturally unintentional thing we sometimes do is to tear up a document by hand before tossing it in the trash or recycling. If the document has any personal identifiers or private information, those pieces of paper can easily be reassembled, no matter how small you tear them up.
  2. Using an office shredding machine may not shred your documents well enough. Many machines leave the paper readable or reconstructible, especially if it is shredded in the same direction as the words are printed. Combine that with conveniently bagging the pieces together and placing them in the dumpster, and you’re risking a data breach.
  3. Picking and choosing which paper documents you should shred, and leaving those decisions up to employees, is a minefield. It’s not a matter of if, but when you will be hit with a data breach. You and others will someday overlook a little thing, like a name, address, account number, or other piece of personally identifiable information (PII) that should be shredded. Your best choice is to adopt a “shred everything” policy, where shred collection bins are conveniently placed throughout your premises and everything is destroyed by a professional shredding company.

Dumpster Divers Love People Like You (and That’s Not Good)

Dumpster divers are sly thieves with a network of people and methods of using the private information found on your poorly-shredded (or not shredded at all) documents. They happily sift through your trash and recycling and will painstakingly reconstruct documents to steal that private information. It’s worth it to them because they can:

  1. Apply for loans using someone else’s identity.
  2. Purchase mobile phones and register an account.
  3. Write checks on an account that they open in someone else’s name.
  4. Open a credit card account using someone’s identity found on your poorly- or un-shredded documents.
  5. Get a driver’s license using the number found on shredded documents, but with their own picture on it.
  6. Use airline points to travel, rent cars, and book hotels.
  7. Use medication labels or prescription numbers to get refills and sell or use the medication.
  8. Withdraw funds from a bank account using account or debit card numbers.
  9. Change someone’s billing address so they will never receive notifications or bills for accounts the thief is charging to.

Jack of All Trades with the Wisdom to Outsource

Knowing when to outsource is just as admirable as doing the work yourself. Outsourcing can help you meet your responsibility for keeping your business, staff, and client information secure.

Richards & Richards offers scheduled shredding or drop off shredding of your confidential paper records so the local dumpster divers will be out of luck. We are NAID AAA Certified which means our services are verified secure and compliant with all known data protection laws by a third party so you can have peace of mind that your private information is safe. We can even provide you with a Certificate of Destruction for your records so you can prove your compliance with data privacy laws. Leave the dumpster diver high and dry by calling us at 615-242-9600 or completing the form on this page. We’re standing by to securely shred your documents.


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