Shredding Laws

Statistics on Identity Theft

Credit Card TheftA national survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research reported that 13.1 million Americans were victims of Identity Theft in 2013. Through the survey, it was discovered that many thieves still obtain personal information through traditional, rather than electronic, channels.  Dumpster diving is still a tried-and-true method of obtaining personal information for scams and identity fraud.

In February 2014 the FTC released an annual report showing that identity theft is at the top of list of consumer complaints. The FTC received a staggering 290,000 complaints specifically about identity theft, up 14% from previous years. American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud in 2013 alone.

Shredding Laws to Protect the Public

In light of these disturbing identity theft statistics, both State and Federal government have enforced the enactment of laws designed to protect the privacy of businesses and individuals:

  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers.  The Administration Simplification provisions also address the security and privacy of health data.
    New Amendment: HITECH/HIPAA
  • PHI (Protected Health Information) is used within HIPAA to describe the type of information that must never be seen by unauthorized individuals.
  • JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) limits the size of shredding and disposal bins in high-traffic areas in healthcare facilities.
  • FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) calls for the proper disposal of information in consumer reports and records to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information.
  • FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) protects the privacy of student education records. Schools must protect student information by securely storing and destroying records.
  • The FTC’s “Red Flags Rule” requires many businesses and organizations to implement a formal and written Identity Theft Prevention Program designed to detect the “red flags” of identity theft in their day-to-day operations.
  • The “Safeguards Rule” of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires all financial institutions to design, implement and maintain safeguards to protect customer information. The Rule applies not only to financial institutions that collect information from their own customers, but also to financial institutions – such as credit reporting agencies – that receive customer information from other financial institutions.
  • Privacy Act of 1974 establishes a code of fair information practice that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies.
  • Economic Espionage Act of 1996 makes the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret a federal crime. Unlike Espionage, the offense involves commercial information, not classified or national defense information.
  • California Assembly Bill 2246 requires businesses to cease printing Social Security numbers on health plan and employer identification cards, as well as other kinds of IDs. It also forbids the future printing of Social Security numbers on bank statements and other documents sent by mail, and allows people to freeze access to their credit reports.
  • California vs. Greenwood 1988 was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrant-less search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the cartilage of a home. Dumpster diving is not illegal.

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Photo Credit: Don Hankins