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Hollywood Knows What’s in Your Trash. Do You?

Whether it’s Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars routinely searching trash cans and dumpsters for clues, Rooney Mara as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo rummaging for information about her targets, or Jack Nicholson and his henchmen in The Departed using trashed documents to manipulate and undermine police efforts, Hollywood knows discarded documents are a vulnerability to be exploited.

In fact, when you consider all the movies and television shows where trash is used to gain valuable information about someone, it seems to be an accepted reality of modern life and it is a wonder that anyone would think casual disposal is safe.

Need more evidence (no pun intended) of Hollywood’s trashy fixation?

The entire plot of Burn After Reading hinges on Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand finding a discarded disc in a locker room trash bin.

In Apple’s T.V. series Slow Horses, rookie MI5 agent Jack Lowden inexplicably shows up for his first day of work with a bag of trash, which he spills on the office floor for examination. (It remains there for several episodes.) In Enemy of the State, Gene Hackman uses DNA from discarded tissue to throw the government off his trail. In the hit T.V. show Better Call Saul, dumpster diving is a staple of investigation used throughout the series.

In fact, the list of movies and television shows in which trash is used in the plot line is too long for this blog, but here are some notable examples: A Most Wanted Man, American Beauty, Sneakers, The American, The Blacklist, The Firm, Dexter, The Wire, Mr. Robot, Breach, True Detective, Breaking Bad, Duplicity, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, L.A. Confidential, Spy Game, The Conversation, Three Days of the Condor, Minority Report, The Other, Marathon Man, Body Double, The Mentalist, The Lives of Others, Person of Interest, White Collar, Sherlock, Castle, Luther, The Sopranos, Fargo (TV series), Chuck, Hannibal, and Monk.

It is said that art imitates life. Hollywood strives to be believable. We watch these shows, and it never occurs to us that “no one would dig in the trash for information.” This doesn’t just happen in the movies, because if it only happened in the movies, it wouldn’t be in the movies in the first place. We accept that information is commonly found in the trash because we know it is the truth. We already understand that our discarded financial records, tax documents, medical records, letters, receipts, pre-approved applications, phone messages and utility bills tell the world whatever they want to know about us.

Okay, you’re not the subject of an investigation and you’re not an underworld kingpin. That’s a start. But chances are you do have a bank account, credit cards, and loved ones you want to protect.

In real life, like in the movies, it makes no sense to put your life in the trash or recycling bin where Brad Pitt or Kristen Bell, or the average, everyday neighborhood burglar or identity thief can find whatever they need.

Contact Shred Vault today to learn how we can help.

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