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Documents containing personal info found outside payday loan business

May 12, 2006 - Louisville, Kentucky

Thousands of documents containing personal and financial information were found unshredded and scattered behind the Money Now payday loan business on Taylor Boulevard. Boxes of financial records were found by another business owner in the same strip center who began alerting people he had their information. WAVE 3's Maureen Kyle talked to a woman whose information was discovered, then went to Money Now for answers.

"It's my name, it's my social security number, it's my address," said an upset woman whose personal information was discovered in a dumpster behind the Money Now on Taylor Boulevard.

We found more documents in a dumpster and along a back fence containing personal and financial information, including social security and bank account numbers.

Employees at Money Now, who noticed our cameras, began collecting the documents after we showed up.

When we asked why the documents hadn't been shredded, we were told by an employee that they had been thrown in the dumpster by mistake. ""They're not supposed to be here."

That same employee also tried to minimize the potential damage, saying: "We don't have a lot of personal information in those documents that you could really steal."

But we found social security numbers, birthdates -- even a check from someone's employer.

The employee we spoke with suggested a conspiracy theory. "We've had some employees who are trying to sabotage us. They've been terminated, and so that's why they got in touch with you."

So we asked a woman who had her information discovered by a stranger if she knew anyone who works at Money Now and she told us no.

The woman we spoke with, who didn't want to be identified, called WAVE 3 after she received a call from someone who rattled off her personal information.

She told us: "I gave Money Now a chance to explain to me why some stranger was able to give me this information, and they really couldn't come up with a good reason. She said: 'we're supposed to shred those and I don't know how you got them.'"

Charlie Mattingly with Louisville's Better Business Bureau says carelessness with documents containing sensitive personal and financial information is a common occurrence with small businesses.

"In this day and age, there is no excuse for just dumping information in the dumpster like that," Mattingly said. "Any business that would be careless with customer records is not only endangering the trust of those customers, but is potentially in legal problems as well under these new laws."

The federal government recently passed a law requiring businesses to shred or properly dispose of customer's personal information.

The woman whose information was just tossed in a dumpster isn't buying the excuses given to us by the employees. "It's still their responsibility to shred my information and they gave me the impression that they did."

While she's getting a lawyer to explore legal action, Money Now isn't taking the situation as seriously.

"Nothing really happened," said an employee. "Someone planted something in our dumpster and is now trying to distribute it. We take every security precaution."

There may be hundreds others whose information was in that dumpster.

If you've ever used the Money Now on Taylor Boulevard, the Better Business Bureau recommends following your credit report closely and filing a complaint with their agency.

News Source

WAVE 3 News, Maureen Kyle, Staff Reporter

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