DOCUMENTED FACT: Dawn Butler and her daughter Amanda are very careful about the way they dispose of personal information.
DOCUMENTED FACT: Dawn Butler and her daughter Amanda are very careful about the way they dispose of personal information. Jacklyn Wagner

Bin disposal theory in shreds

DAWN Butler doesn't mince words when it comes to risking identity theft by dumping personal documents in the rubbish.

“You'd have to be stupid to do that,” the South Gundurimba resident said.

But according to Australia's first-ever bin raiding research, most Australians qualify.

The research, undertaken for National Identity Fraud Awareness Week, found 84 per cent of Australian recycling bins contained papers, credit cards and other documents that are used by identity thieves in the country's fastest-growing crime.

Just over half of bins contained documents that could be used in a 100-point ID check, including bank statements, utility bills, Medicare and Centrelink cards - even driver's licences.

A quick glance in the recycling hoppers opposite Lismore Shopping Square shocked Ms Butler.

“Look at all those letters with people's names on them, that's personal information,” she said.

“I always make sure I tear those documents into the smallest pieces that God ever knew.”

The study, commissioned by shredder maker Fellowes Australia, backed Ms Butler's policy on the importance of shredding personal information.

“To rectify the damage and reinstate your credit rating can take years and many thousands of dollars, so it pays to take a few minutes to shred your personal mail before it goes in the bin,” Peter Campbell, national marketing manager of Fellowes Australia, said.

According to Lismore City Council waste and water education officer, Kevin Trustum, the safest way for residents to dispose of personal paper waste was to shred it and put it in the green or organics waste bin.

“If residents are worried, organics bin contents are fed to the worms and disposed of in a secure location,” Mr Trustum said.

In terms of cost to ratepayers and environmental impact, Mr Trustum said disposing of paper in the organic waste bin was 'just as good' as dumping it with the recyclables.

“Either way you are reducing landfill,” he said.



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