|4/4/2007 – Victorians ‘don’t have to worry about it,’ according to local employee
April 04, 2007 – Posted at 12:00 a.m.
BY GABE SEMENZA – VICTORIA ADVOCATE
Victoria area customers of Radio Shack do not need to worry about their personal information ending up in the wrong place, store officials said Tuesday.
Fort Worth-based RadioShack Corporation was cited Monday by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for exposing thousands of its customers to identity theft, the third such citation by Abbott in the last two weeks. He has also cited a North Carolina-based talent agency and a Dallas beauty college for similar mishaps.
According to documents filed by Abbott, RadioShack violated a 2005 law requiring businesses to protect consumer records that contain sensitive information, including Social Security and bank account numbers, credit and debit card information, names, addresses and telephone numbers.
Sgt. Roland Chavez of the Portland Police Department explained in a telephone conversation Tuesday that sensitive and boxed customer information was placed into “a large industrial dumpster” by RadioShack employees there. Chavez said “somebody went dumpster diving” and found the information.
Portland is about 10 miles north of Corpus Christi.
Chavez said this dumpster diver told him he is a man who simply rummages “for relaxation.”
The customers’ information in the dumpster included applications for RadioShack credit cards, mobile phone service plans, internal sales receipts and a document that involved a city credit card issued to Portland Police Chief Randy Wright.
The recreational dumpster diver shared the boxes with a Corpus Christi TV station, which then contacted RadioShack and some of those whose information was in the dumpster, Chavez said. The sergeant added that there are no investigations involving illegal use of this information yet.
“As with any case, you need to make sure you know what is on your current credit history so that you know nothing has changed,” he said, adding that those worried should obtain free copies of their credit reports.
State investigators, meanwhile, are working to determine if any exposed data has been used illegally.
Wendy Dominguez, a Fort Worth RadioShack spokeswoman, declined comment Tuesday by phone. In an e-mail, she wrote that “this was an isolated incident … that did not act in accordance to our shredding program.”
This shredding program, as shared Tuesday by a RadioShack employee working at one of the company’s two Victoria locations, is followed consistently here. “We have a safe area (a locked room) where we put a big box that we put all secure documents in. It’s a lockbox. Someone comes in once a month to shred them.”
Of leaked customer information here, the employee said Victorians “don’t have to worry about it. Never done that. Everything’s safe in our store.”
Steve Schmidt, a vice president for RadioShack, said through an e-mail sent to the Advocate on Tuesday that the company plans to cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation.
“In this isolated instance, the store did not act in accordance with this program,” Schmidt wrote. “However, we moved quickly to reclaim and secure those documents. Because the litigation is ongoing, we will be unable to provide any additional comments at this time.”
The ongoing litigation includes Abbott’s accusation that RadioShack has also violated Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients’ personal information – or face a $500 fine for each abandoned record.
In addition, the company faces a $50,000 penalty per incident by violating the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires the protection and proper destruction of clients’ sensitive personal information.
Consumers who wish to file a complaint may contact the attorney general’s office at 800-252-8011 or at www.oag.state.tx.us.
Gabe Semenza is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.