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 America2, and, based on the reports of identity theft victims, it was claimed that 88% of the information collected by thieves was obtained through dumpster diving.3

Information thieves can collect:

  • 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
  • Identity theft victims claim that 88% of the stolen information thieves obtained by dumpster diving.3

1 http://www.epa.state.oh.us/ocapp/consumer/junkmail.aspx

2 Social Security Administration. “Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number.” SSA Publication No.
05-10064. August 2009.

3 http://www.shredexonline.com/dumpster_diving.php

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.