Can someone legally dig through your trash looking for tasty credit card reciepts, account numbers, or your social security number? The U.S. Supreme Court implies that the answer is yes. In the decision California vs. Greenwood, they stated that the “expectation of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public… is unreasonable.”
In other words, when you throw something in the trash, it is available to anyone willing to overlook the disgusting smells and textures of your trash can or dumpster.
What should you shred?
The easy answer – anything that has a signature, account number, social security number, or medical or legal information (plus credit offers).
The complete answer – see below.
Address labels from junk mail and magazines
Birth certificate copies
Canceled and voided checks
Credit and charge card bills, carbon copies, summaries and receipts
Credit reports and histories
Documents containing maiden name (used by credit card companies for security reasons)
Documents containing names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses
Documents relating to investments
Documents containing passwords or PIN numbers
Driver’s licenses or items with a driver’s license number
Employee pay stubs
Expired passports and visas
Unlaminated identification cards (college IDs, state IDs, employee ID badges, military IDs)
Investment, stock and property transactions
Items with a signature (leases, contracts, letters)