Dumpster Diving

Despite all the high-tech innovations and advancements available to identity thieves, old-fashioned “dumpster diving” – literally digging through your trash – remains a popular method for stealing large amounts of your personal information.


Will thieves really go through your garbage?

Absolutely. Why? Because Americans receive over 4 million tons of junk mail each year1, and much of this mail – such as pre-approved credit cards, credit card bills, and bank statements – includes your personal information. Dumpster-diving identity thieves root through your trash because they know the documents you discard as garbage contain personal identity information that can be spun into gold when used in a variety of illegal manners.

How big of a threat is Dumpster Diving?

Identity theft remains one of the fastest-growing crimes in America.2


Information thieves can collect when dumpster diving:

  • Pre-approved credit card offers
  • Street address
  • Social Security number
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Bank account information
  • Employment history
  • Other personal information

 


What thieves can do with this information:

  • Identity theft
  • Employment-related fraud
  • Loan fraud/payday loan fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Benefits fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Other identity fraud

 

Dumpster Diving Statistics:

  • Americans receive over 4 million tons of junk mail each year.1
  • 2 Social Security Administration. “Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number.” SSA Publication No. 05-10064. August 2009.

Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.

Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.

Jamie White is the managing editor of news content for LifeLock. As a journalist for the last 15 years, she has worked as a reporter and editor at news organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including The San Francisco Examiner. Most recently, she was a regional editor for Patch Media, a local news and information consortium of 900 websites nationwide. Jamie holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.