Why Should I Shred? Posted on 6 Oct 08:00 , 4 comments

2002_F002023 garbage cans

What would I find if I went through your garbage today? 

Most people know that they should be concerned about their identity being stolen. But shredding everything is a pain, and chances are most people don't really appreciate how dangerous it actually is to discard papers in the trash. 

Be honest now - how many times have you thrown away a credit card offer without opening it? I’m guilty of it myself. It’s just so much work to shred it. Most home or office shredders won’t accept an unopened envelope - you have to open it and individually feed a sheet or two at a time. Who has time for that?

But what happens when that credit card offer goes out in your trash? It’s got your name on it, at the very least. There might be other personally identifying information, or might even be partly filled out, courtesy of the credit card company, just waiting for your signature (or somebody to forge it).

Did you know that it's perfectly legal for anybody - even criminals - to go through your trash?

The Supreme Court has ruled that "The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home” (California v. Greenwood). The current law in the United States (federal as well as state law) is that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy for contents of garbage. Furthermore, a person has relinquished any property interest in garbage, even when it sits in metal trash cans or opaque plastic bags at the person's home awaiting collection.

In other words, information in your trash is "fair game" to anyone. Criminals, law enforcement, anyone and everyone has a right to legally go through your garbage and take your discarded stuff.

Even stuff with your name, credit card number, banking information, home address, and more. There’s no crime in taking it, and it can be legally taken right out of your garbage, even while the garbage can sits on your curb. Scared yet?

You should be.

Identity theft is a scary enough reason to shred your material. What about information that you give to others, or information that is entrusted to you? The national and state governments have enacted multiple laws regarding the disposal of information for both businesses and residences. Depending on the kind of information you have in your possession, you may have a legal obligation to dispose of it securely. The Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, provides an extremely rigid set of guidelines for the disposal of protected health information. Financial institutions, attorneys, and government institutions each have tightly regulated information disposal methods.

Even if you don’t fall under HIPAA one of the multiple laws dictating information disposal for specific professions, you still may have a legal obligation to protect the information in your possession. In an event of an information breach all businesses are required to notify everyone effected or face hefty fines from the government.

How can you protect your identity from dumpster-diving thieves? 

The best way to ensure the safety of your identity, and all information in your possession is to dispose of it securely. It can be as simple and inexpensive as purchasing a home or office shredder, or as sophisticated as contracting with a shredding company to do the work for you.

Having the shredder is a step in the right direction, but you have to also use it. Unopened letters stacked on top of the shredder is a recipe for disaster. What happens on trash day when you’re in a hurry? Those un-shredded documents get swept into the regular trash with a pang of guilt.

Professional on-site shredding is out of reach for small businesses and households. Or is it? 

The advantage of hiring a professional shredding company is that you’ll have consistent, secure shredding service that takes care of the hard work for you, saving you time. You simply collect your documents in a secure, locked receptacle, such as the ones that we carry at EasyShred.com. Then on a periodic basis the shred truck will come and pick up your documents, and will either shred the entire load onsite, or will remove the information to an offsite shred facility. Either way you’ll get a Certificate of Destruction proving that your information was destroyed.

EasyShred offers the perfect solution for households and businesses that need shredding services, but don’t need or want to sign a contract for regular monthly or bi-weekly shreds. Simply purchase one of our secure, locking, attractive shred cabinets and place it in your home or office. Start collecting your disposed documents in the shred bin or cabinet. When it’s full, just call us at (512) 563-9005, and one of our certified shred trucks will come out to your location, shred your documents, and provide you with your certificate of destruction.

Is it really this easy to securely destroy my documents?

Yes, it is. You just need to do two things: 

  1. Shop for your secure cabinet online at easyshred.com
  2. Call us at (512) 563-9005 to schedule your shred

 It's that easy.