We live in a time when ID thieves need only a few pieces of information in order to steal someone’s identity and rob them blind. Most companies have learned to recognize this threat and now take measures to protect customers’ information. Judging by the dumpster full of hundreds of folders containing customers’ names, addresses, dates of birth, credit card info, and Social Security numbers, someone at the Sylvan Learning Center in Beaverton, OR, needs a refresher course on customer privacy.
According to KATU-TV, Beaverton police were recently called to check out the dumpster at the Sylvan center after employees at a neighboring business noticed that it was chock full of files containing all manner of personal information about customers.
The owner of that Sylvan branch says these files were supposed to be shredded before being discarded, “But I wasn’t here, and when the files were purged, they were put into a recycling box and out the door they went.”
Given the mess this could have caused if any of these folders got into the hands of a scammer, the police aren’t very impressed by the “they were supposed to be shredded” excuse.
“It’s surprising that in 2013 there are people out there who seemingly don’t know that that’s what all these new shredding companies exist for, is to properly dispose of people’s personal information so that identity thieves don’t get in it,” a police detective tells KATU, adding that Sylvan employees say they were directed to toss the files in the dumpster.
But now that the files are evidence, they aren’t being shredded. Instead, they’ve been turned over to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which will investigate and could penalize the center up to $1,000 per customer whose information was put at risk.
Beaverton police are asking anyone who has been a customer of this particular Sylvan center in the past five years or so to keep an eye on their credit and bank accounts just to make sure that none of their info was compromised.
Last week, a man in Chicago purchased some file cabinets from Sears at a liquidation sale, only to find that they contained folders full of sensitive employee documents. When he tried to return the folders, someone at the retailer told him to just leave them on a loading dock.
Back in 2010, CVS customers in New York City were horrified to find that a pharmacy had just dumped out a bag full of old prescriptions on the sidewalk, putting potentially embarrassing and sensitive information in the hands of anyone walking by.