Best Buy Keeps Your Credit Card And SSNs In Plain View On The Sales Floor

Here’s a disturbing letter from reader Blake:

I saw something a little weird at our local Best Buy [redacted]. While on my break from work I decided to stop by the store and pick up the latest copy of Rainbow Six Vegas 2. While walking through the audio section of the Home Theater department I passed by a computer terminal next to some stereo equipment and an open filing cabinet in the middle with a tray on-top. At first I thought it was just storage for binders, pamphlets, sales ad’s and stuff they might need on the floor, but when I looked into the tray I saw completed credit card forms, with peoples names, addresses, social security # and etc…

It also had shipping documentation for customers products, and other documents concerning customer purchases. I then checked the drawers and found it filled with the same documentation for sales, completed credit card sheets, and etc. Also all the cabinet drawers were unlocked and the lock clearly broken allowing anyone passing by to take a look at some ones info.

Usually stores would keep this stuff in a backroom, or at least behind a counter. Not in the open where anyone can easily grab a sheet and get someone’s information.

I included some pic’s too, sorry that they’re not that good I had to quickly take them on my phone as a sales rep started coming over to ask me for the 5th time if I needed anything.

We called the Best Buy in question and they confirmed that customer contracts containing sensitive personal information were being stored on the sales floor in a tray on top of the filing cabinet. They apologized and promised to move the information into the back room where it is supposed to be stored.

They sounded as appalled as we were, but we’ve redacted the exact location of this store just in case. Is this a common problem at Best Buy?



Edit Your Comment

  1. buyj3llo says:

    Wow, I didn’t even know it was possible to be that incompetent.

  2. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    As I said in a previous thread… if everyone asks for a Social Security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name, then it is almost as bad as having no “secret” verifying information at all. Each company you do business with should have a unique verification.

    And those of you who are so sloppy that you use the same username and password to sign into everything, then let the merchants keep your credit card number on file, deserve what you get.

  3. DeeJayQueue says:

    Why was the OP going through the drawers in a file cabinet? I can understand the dismay of seeing the personal stuff in plain view in the tray on top, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to go digging through file cabinets. That’s not “plain view.”

  4. Chols says:

    “I then checked the drawers and found it filled with the same documentation for sales, completed credit card sheets, and etc.”

    I love how you did exactly what you were afraid of other people doing!

  5. HalOfBorg says:

    I use same username/password for many sites – but only sites like this one – forums and the like.

    Every account I have that involves money and/or real identity info has a different username/password.

    I keep that info in a safe place NOT on my PC, use paper version to remind me when I log in to sites.

  6. homerjay says:

    What does “Just in case” mean? Why not call them out on it??

  7. Antediluvian says:

    @DeeJayQueue: I agree that something in a filing cabinet, locked or not, is not open and plain view, but I interpreted the OP to mean the cabinet was out on the floor and accessible to anyone nosy enough to dig through it. Not as bad as the stuff in the box on top, but not great either.

  8. boandmichele says:

    @Chols: but instead they notified the appropriate people at best buy, and the consumerist. kinda like a white hat hacker, that identifies and exploits security problems.

    stop whining.

  9. boandmichele says:

    @boandmichele: correction, meg notified best buy. my mistake

  10. levenhopper says:

    Did managment say over the phone if they would “Take this seriously?”

  11. Optimus says:

    @HalOfBorg: Yeah, I use different username and password for the ones that store the credit card information.

    As to different username and password elsewhere, that’s just because it’s been so long since I’ve been there that my password has changed or the username was already taken.

    I don’t write them down, but I use the confirmation original emails to remind me the username and that usually helps me remember the password or I’ll just click the “forgot my password” link on most sites.

  12. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Antediluvian: Right, but there’s a difference between something being right there in plain sight where people might be tempted to take it where they wouldn’t have been otherwise, and something hidden in a file cabinet where someone would have to make an effort to go searching for it. A person would already have to have intent to steal something if they were rooting through a file cabinet like that, and that being the case there are far easier ways to steal an ID than that.

  13. I recently saw at our local Best Buy one of those kiosks where they access customer data, etc. and someone had left the kiosk unattended with someone’s account open with name and address and other sensitive information easily viewable right there on the screen. Outrageous. The employees have no sense of privacy and security for their customers (don’t worry, though, I am not surprised.. i mean it is Best Buy we are talking about here.)

  14. NotATool says:

    @homerjay: you don’t have a bunch of opportunist douchebags going to the store just to try to steal the customer paperwork?

  15. macfoo says:

    Who needs to worry about ID theft with the likes of Best Buy around?

    Still doesn’t beat the briefcase I saw lying at a major intersection with 100s of sheets of paper flying around in traffic.

    In the land of make believe I’d like to have hoped that none of it contained any private info….

  16. tom2133 says:

    I remember when I worked for Best Buy, we kept the Best Buy credit card brochures next to the computer at customer service. This computer didn’t have someone by it all the time. It would have been easy for someone to pickup a stack of applications, get some identifying information off of them and go on a little shopping spree. Not to mention the access most employees had to your personal information. (Not sure if it’s changed, buy I was able to go through records of all my friends and their purchases).

    The incompetence is strong with this company.

  17. valarmorghulis says:


  18. cartmants says:

    I used to work for Best Buy. This was a common issue with some people. They didn’t care, especially in Home Theater because the ratio of customers to employees were 10:1 – 20:1; so they had “no time” to file the paperwork. They would just put it in a binder or on top of the computer monitor.

    I on the other hand knew that I would never want someone to do that to me, so I took the time out to file correct paper work in my department – and I tried to get other co-workers to do that. Well, I am now not working for Best Buy (I quit), and this is probably still happening.

  19. 628 says:

    This is a common problem! Even at Circuit City.

    I often see customers applying for these store’s credit cards, and right after, the application is thrown into a tray right behind them.

  20. jeff303 says:

    @homerjay: yeah it’s what NotATool said. I would have ordered it slightly differently:

    They sounded as appalled as we were. They apologized and promised to move the information into the back room where it is supposed to be stored, but we’ve redacted the exact location of this store just in case [they haven’t]

  21. Adam Hyland says:

    Blurriest pictures, ever.

  22. Part-Time-Viking says:

    Okay… This is not standard protocol for Best Buy, this is just a situation where the people handling the stuff are incompetent. While this is appalling, this is also another example of The Consumerist just wanting to post something negative about Best Buy for the sake of posting something negative about Best Buy.

    This is not a problem with the company as a whole, just an isolated issue that I hope that people got canned for.

  23. mmbb says:

    Dude, it’s a trap!!
    You fell for that honeypot bait?

  24. tme2nsb says:

    We had a problem like this at some ATT stores (I work for ATT), and this is why now no one at the store can see this information.

  25. axiomatic says:

    Don’t forget to get the extended warranty on your social security card and drivers license. You might need it.

  26. Bruce says:

    @buyj3llo: They have special training videos and mandatory classes scheduled on the employee’s day off to attain that level of incompetence.

  27. ParadeDC says:

    I work at Best Buy and we put our credit application into a locked black security box when they are completed. We let the customer know exactly where we are putting it so they don’t have any questions about their security.

  28. jwissick says:

    OP is in the wrong here for being in a BB to begin with. Never go inside BB. Never.

    I would have called the local TV station down to the store and showed it to them….