Paper Shredding: Do’s and Don’ts

Just a reminder that the courts have OK’ed “Dumpster Diving” for Law Enforcement, so that beggarly looking individual going through your garbage could easily be a policeman, detective, FBI agent, or whatever…

When it comes to shredding paper with your name and address or other sensitive information on it, follow these important DO’s:

  • DO avoid stirring up the shreds. This makes it more difficult for Federal agencies to piece them back together.
  • DO take your shreds to your local police station for “recycling” — this will help ensure your shreds are taken directly to the Phillipines with minimum disturbance so they can be more easily pieced together.
  • DO shred only important or “incriminating” information – like bank statements, cash receipts, or voter registration notices: shredding blank paper or packaging materials increases the amount of work required to snoop your shreds.
  • DO bag shreds separately, and keep shreds from each shredding session together. Shred snoops don’t like to handle garbage. Help keep our taxes low by reducing the cost to our government of piecing together your shreds!

Now that we’ve had some sadly ironic fun…

In the particular state I’m in now, folks try to do what’s good for the environment. They try to do what’s right too, but that’s were things often go wrong. After all, some of the greatest damage is done by people trying to “do good”. In this state, there are regular media campaigns encouraging citizens to “bring in their shredded paper” to, of all places, police stations, to have it recycled. It seems no one has questioned this “service” being offered by the police.

Why not recycle it like other recyclables? In the greater metro area, recycling is universally available. In one place we checked out, recyclables are placed in blue bags to separate them from non-recyclable trash. Some communities support “single stream” recycling, where all recyclables are placed in a single recycling container, and the recyclables are separated at the recycling center.

Given this wide availability of recycling, why would one bring their shredded documents, that contained shredded personal information, to the police? I’m sorry, but in a land where the NSA records all phone calls and Internet activity, and then stores it forever, this brings up images of Filipinos who once worked for the FBI and CIA going through the shredded material and meticulously bringing it back to its original state for snooping purposes.

I’d like to find a better explanation, but I can’t think of one.

  • Peter

    … I’ve not seen a single recycling bin (for pop cans, for example) in town or out at the University. At UMM just about every trash can comes with a phalanx of specialized receptacles for office paper, cans, bottles, etc., etc. Here, there are just trash cans (and often not a lot of them). The nearest place for me to take office paper for recycling at the University is two floors up from my office. A bit of a change from back home.