Customers’ sensitive financial documents found dumped in trash

HOUSTON—Hundreds of sensitive financial documents, apparently from customers of a west Houston motel, were dumped in the trash.

The papers are filled with names, addresses, credit card numbers and more—everything an identity thief would want. Thankfully that’s not who made the discovery.

Rosie Laughlin was just taking out the trash at her Westside townhome Wednesday when she stumbled onto a potential treasure trove.

“I saw all these files over here, there must be at least 500 of them,” she said. “With all the pertinent information, credit cards, numbers telephones, addresses, I was horrified.”

That information is often stapled to receipts from a La Quinta on Interstate 10 and Wilcrest about two miles away. Xeroxes of driver’s licenses, credit cards and more can mean money to ID thieves.

“They can go through somebody’s bank account real fast,” Laughlin said.

She called police and her daughter, who also lives in the same complex.

While they waited for authorities, they called some of the customers to let them know what happened.

“One gentleman asked if I would burn the dumpster. I said ‘I can’t do that,’” Bebe Laughlin said.

Bebe Laughlin said he asked, “’You know this is two years ago. Why didn’t they erase my info?’”

The most recent transactions seem to be within the past few weeks and those credit cards were still active.

KHOU 11 News phoned several of the Houston-area customers who confirmed having stayed at that La Quinta.

After three phone calls to police, the Laughlins called KHOU 11 News. So it was after business hours when we stopped by the La Quinta in question. We asked the clerk on duty what employees are you supposed to do with these kinds of financial records.

He said, “I file them. I don’t know what happens with them after that.”

Late Wednesday, La Quinta sent a statement:

“At La Quinta, the safety and security of our employees and guests are top priority. We have policies and procedures in place to secure and dispose of documents containing consumers¹ sensitive personal and financial information. We are conducting a thorough investigation to determine if these documents were removed from the secure location in which they were kept.”

Also Wednesday evening, Houston police retrieved the paperwork and were also investigating.

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