Here’s a new hit song for identity thieves!

This song is blowing up the Top Ten on the Identity Identity Theft Hit Parade!  Da Dumpster Dive!  These guys may be diving in for old Kool Aid and Bagels, but Identity thieves dive in for a different reason.

By now most of us are understanding the need to shred our old personal documents.  An in home shredder is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.  And we know that it needs to be DOD Approved and not a ribbon shredder.  Ribbon shredders just create jigsaw puzzles for identity thieves, strips can be pieced back together to harvest information.  With individual getting more savvy about the destruction of information, your home trash is much less attractive to identity thieves than this item.

Why are dumpsters so attractive to identity thieves?  Well you always find dumpsters near businesses.  Businesses gather all sorts of personal information from their clients and customers.   Names, addresses, phone numbers, account numbers and the list goes on.  And businesses do not always follow the law when it comes to disposal on this information.

It is a fairly common event to turn on your local news to see a report about files dumped in dumpsters.   Honest people come across these files and report it to news reporters, police or others and it ends up on your evening news.  For every honest person that reports the situation, how many dishonest people are taking the information for nefarious purposes.

Personal information found in dumpsters is a gold mine.  The thief does not have to use you information personally.  There is a huge black market out there for personal information and the thieves know this.  They can make a fortune selling what they find in these dumpsters.

If a business you have dealt with improperly disposes of your personal information in a dumpster, and a thief gets his hands on it; well that information can be sold as many times as the thief wants.  Multiple people can buy and use your information.  This is why it is important to have a plan, to be able to react quickly and at any time to respond to identity theft issues.

Training of employees is key to protecting information

We all assume that businesses holding our information will protect it, that is the law after all.   The Federal Trade Commission requires ‘reasonable measures’ in the disposal of sensitive and personally identifying information.  However datalosses and security breaches still occur on an (almost) daily basis.

Many business entities have implemented measures to protect this information.  They have established policies outlining how information should be disposed of, but something still happens.  Unfortunately for a Georgia attorney, recent events show that a system of policies and procedures can break down.

According to the news report; Ashley Bell was surprised to discover that his firm was the source of one of the most easily avoided types of dataloss-confidential documents  tossed in a dumpster.  After all there is an established procedure in place, confidential documents are to be shredded and recycled.  An internal investigation led to a college intern, who was perhaps a bit too eager to get the task done and dumped the files in an unsecured dumpster.  The procedure was there but it was not followed.

Shredding can be a tedious task, I know from experience.  I also know that the information you are shredding can be dangerous in the wrong hands so it is a vital step in any disposal procedure.  The key is that I know and understand this.  Employers need to make sure that employees are trained to understand that danger and the consequences if the information is exposed.  Was this intern trained?  The report does not tell us that, and even training an employee does not guarantee that they will follow procedures.  It can however greatly improve the chance that they will when they understand the consequences and the employer can show that they have taken steps to prevent a breach.

Many businesses are taking steps to implement these reasonable measures, They are acting in good faith to protect information such as in the case of Mr. Bell’s law office.   Unfortunately for every Ashley Bell there are business owners who will not take steps to protect information until after they have experienced a dataloss themselves.