Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More reporters getting their hands dirty to expose privacy threats

Yesterday, I wrote about a news report from Nashville about a reoprter going dumpster diving for personal information (PIPEDA and Canadian Privacy Law: Dumpster diving could lead to quick-and-dirty identity theft). Today, a report from the Belleville NewsDemocrat in which their reporters did the same and came up with a load of information from an Illinois state office:

Belleville News-Democrat | 05/09/2005 | Trash bins yield personal data (4/24/2005):

"For 23 job applicants who gave state employment officials in Belleville detailed personal information for work profiles, their only safeguard against identity theft was a plastic trash bag.

But in less than 30 seconds, a reporter last week stopped his car outside the Illinois Department of Employment Security office at 4519 W. Main St., yanked a bag from an open trash bin, tossed it into the back seat and took off.

Instead of containing shredded documents, according to routine state disposal policy, the trash bag held more than 100 records just a few months old listing clients' names, addresses, birth dates, home telephone numbers and Social Security numbers. Besides the 23 applicants who completed the work profiles, there were forms and reports for an additional 41 metro-east residents with similar personal information that could be used by identity thieves to obtain credit cards or checking accounts, commit financial fraud and leave the residents dealing with credit problems for years to come...."

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