While "Dumpster Diving" is not an Olympic sport, it is a sure way for thieves to reap gold from your trash bin.|
Increasingly, criminals are winning at the dumpster simply by obtaining personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, signatures and bank statements from garbage cans across the nation. The government can't stop them: the U.S. Supreme Court, in effect overturning the 1974 Privacy Act, stated that garbage left at a curb for pick-up is public domain and subject to inspection and seizure by anyone. This "anyone" could include criminals and corporate competitors.
Dumpster divers, so-named for their adeptness at obtaining crucial, personal information from garbage bins, are already responsible for wreaking havoc on the lives of individuals across the country. Armed with a few bits of information retrieved from garbage cans, criminals have erased identities, gone on hundred-thousand-dollar shopping sprees and stolen social security checks. In many instan-ces, the trouble can be traced back to something innocently tossed into a garbage can.
How can dumpster diving be stopped and citizens protected? How can we ensure that this latest crime fad will be short-lived?
"Shredding makes your personal information unavailable for the taking," says Tony Storrie, director of marketing for Fellowes, the world's leading manufacturer of shredders. "Shredding junk mail, credit card receipts and any other form of personal information means it is thoroughly destroyed, useless to criminals looking to profit at the expense of unsuspecting people."
William Britt, chief of the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service's Atlanta office, echoes Storrie's sentiments, suggesting the shredding of all documents prior to disposal. Crumple something up, tear it in half, and dumpster divers will gladly put it back together. Shred it, and it is gone for good.
The Privacy Rights Clearing-house (PRC), a non-profit, consumer education and research program administered by the University of San Diego's Center for Public Interest Law, also advocates shredding, claiming it can protect citizens against having their sensitive information stolen by dumpster divers. The accessibility of shredders has also increased, says the PRC, now that home shredders are available for purchase at most office supply stores.
People seem to be catching on, however, as shredder sales are steadily on the rise. According to industry experts, the estimated size of the global shredder market is $700-800 million a year, with projected growth of 20-25 percent.
This is good news, says Storrie, who states: "The general public should view shredders as an essential component of the home and/or home office. Just as important as a computer, phone or fax machine, the shredder is the ultimate weapon in protecting against fraud."
Criminals are always on the lookout for ways to get your money, and dumpster
diving just seems to be the latest modus operandi. So for your own safety, shred
anything even remotely important before you throw it in the garbage. And remember,
if you don't pay attention to what you throw away, someone else will.(NAPSI)
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