Washington Inventory Service in Merriam, Kansas, left a box of employee records in a recycling dumpster behind their building. The records included the personal information of current and past employees. It was discovered by someone and reported to KSHB Action News. These calls must feel like Christmas to reporters because the story writes itself.
The plot line is:
- Go to the location and film the documents in the dumpster.
- Find a name and address of one of the exposed people.
- Track down the person and ask if the company should have protected their information. (Easy because the records have name, address, and phone number)
- The person gives a very angry statement.
- Then interview the company and find out why they are so poorly managed.
It is easy to edit and everyone understands that private information should be protected. The visual of the documents in the dumpster and angry person add the needed images for television,
This did have an interesting response from the company spokesperson for Washington Inventory Service. She said they had no requirement to shred the documents since they were left on their property. She is obviously unaware that FACTA requires names and social security numbers on employee records to be properly destroyed. There is no expectation of privacy in a dumpster so that is not an acceptable place to leave protected information. This is the result of the California v. Greenwood Supreme Court ruling to affirmed that dumpsters are not considered private property if exposed.
She later changed her tune and said they were shredding all day and didn’t shred this one box. If that is the case it is not surprising that an error was made. Spending all day at a shredder is a tedious job that can lead to employees trying to short cut the work.
If security is a concern then the shredding should be made convenient. If a shredding company took care of the work then it would have been securely destroyed without the need to take an entire day. Another benefit is that outsourcing the work is less expensive along with being more secure.
This is not a new story but there is one part of this incident that I found amusing. The person looking through the dumpster was looking for coupons. Not just any coupon, but one specifically for miracle whip. They either really love the white condiment or really love the game of couponing. I hope she found one and is enjoying a sandwich with the fruits of their labor.