Steve Gillett was shocked at what he found behind the office of Visa Services Northwest. Not just personal information of the businesses clients but his own documents. He found papers including his name, social security number, credit card information and even a copy of his signature.
If I was to read into this story I would say Steve was mad with the company and was looking through the trash in an effort to harm the company. And his efforts paid off when he found information the law requires a business to shred. He then called the local media and the Attorney General.
The companies owner, Xiaoli Ding said this was an isolated incident and the company shreds personal information and shreds the rest. They have since moved to shredding everything.
Kudos to Visa Services Northwest for introducing a much better document destruction program. This highlights the dangers of a poorly designed program. Your enemies are always looking for you to make a mistake with what you shred. And do you really want your lowest level employees making the decision about what should be shredded? For the low cost of a paper shredding service the approach of shred everything is the only prudent option.
Channel 2 in Fort Myers recently took a look into a dumpster behind Dr. James Barringer’s office. What they found were his patient files with full name, address and social security numbers. When Dr. Barringer was contacted he came out to the dumpster and dug out his patient files and said it was a mistake and the person responsible would be fired. Clearly Dr. Barringer understood that he was in violation of HIPAA. However, he didn’t take the reasonable precaution of hiring a shredding service but instead used the “head in sand” approach.
The story doesn’t end there. Channel 2 then found the files from the office of Lucille Adgate, a Certified Public Accountant. They were tax records that contained her clients personal information. She was notified and then came out to dig out her files. Apparently she doesn’t just share a dumpster with Dr. Barringer but also his failed document destruction plan.
Two more professionals who could have protected their clients, been in compliance with the law, and avoided the negative press for the few dollars a shredding service would cost. Instead they purchased a small shredder and rolled the dice.
Read the full article, sorry no video for this one.
If you have ever done business or worked at the U-Care Thrift store in Mesa you might want to keep a close eye on your credit report. The reason is that the store was recently discovered to have boxes of employment applications sitting behind their location. And how was this discovered? Joe Torres found copies of drivers licenses blowing down the alley as he was donating clothes.
This is not only a violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) but an Arizona law that requires businesses to destroy records containing employees’ personal information. However, the penalty is a paltry $100 fine for a first violation and only $1,000 for a second.
The owner said that they shred everything but clearly that is not the case. Just another example where a few dollars for a shredding service would have saved the business and the employees.
Continuing the recent trend of governments that don’t respect the privacy of their employees and constituents, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority threw the personal information of their employees in the trash. Workers at a Queens bus depot discovered reams of their claim forms in the dumpster.
I hate to sound like a broken record but when you leave the shredding to employees they will take the easy way out and just throw it in the dumpster and hope no one finds them. With New York being the center of freegans, this is bad bet.
The Berkowitz and Pace Law Firm has a unique legal document shredding policy. Apparently it is to set the legal files of their clients on the curb and let passersby do the shredding. It would concern me if my lawyer not only showed so little concern for my privacy but also did not know that trash on the curb is public property since the Supreme Court ruled on California V. Greenwood in 1988.
Maybe charging $150 per hour isn’t enough to cover the couple of dollars per box to have a shredding service come out and properly destroy the documents. Shame on you Berkowitz and Pace Law Firm.
Mike Leming was surprised when he visited the local recycling center in Hamilton. While recycling his newspaper he found 20 boxes of township documents. Mike didn’t know what exactly was on the documents but it was apparent that they should have been shredded and not just dumped at the recycling center.
Add the Hamilton Township to the list of organizations whose document destruction program involves throwing papers into the recycle bin and then hoping that they simply aren’t discovered. Most likely they had to pass the small shredder that froze up years ago.
While searching through a dumpster to find some moving boxes Esther Taylor made a shocking discovery. What she found were boxes containing social security numbers, bank account information, and medical records. The files were from Del Sol day care center Casa (video).
When the owner says their policy is to shred any sensitive information. I think a more accurate statement is “we have a little shredder and expect our employees to assign themselves the extra job of paper shredding.” I like to call this the “head in sand” approach to document destruction.
New York is the first state to begin a licensing program for document destruction companies. Beginning in October contractors must pay $50 annually and provide proof of no criminal record.
The state is walking a fine line. While we support the idea of preventing criminals from setting up fraudulent document destruction companies; we don’t want to see the requirements become so onerous that their main purpose is to prevent new companies from entering the market. With large companies looking to consolidate the industry it is these new entrants that keep the market competitive and prices reasonable for the consumer.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania based Select Medical Corporation. The company ran a rehabilitation service in Levelland, Texas. Apparently the Select Medical document destruction plan was to throw all their customers personal information into their dumpster and hope nobody looked inside.
“We are seeking an injunction against Select Medical to prevent them from ever disclosing personal information like this again, as well as seeking penalties of up to $50,000 per violation,” Abbott said. Throwing personal medical information into the trash is a violation of HIPAA as well as Texas’ Texas Identity Theft Protection Act passed in 2005.