Man Finds Documents with Personal Information Inside Dumpster
HARLINGEN – Dozens of documents containing people’s personal information were found sitting in a dumpster in Harlingen. The man who found the documents is a dumpster diver.
“Jim” usually looks for used cardboard and metal to sell while he’s searching dumpsters. It is against city ordinance to dumpster dive, but he said he’s struggling.
“I needed extra money. I’m already working two jobs, so I needed extra cash,” he explained.
On his latest trip, Jim came across the documents containing personal information.
“Social Security numbers, birthdays, home addresses, home telephone numbers, you name it,” he said.
He saw the documents and it his close to home for him. He said his family was a victim of identity fraud.
“It’s affected us for almost three or four years,” Jim said. “I don’t want someone to lose personal information, especially that kind of information.”
The documents recovered were turned over to the Texas Attorney General’s Office. They are investigating and will properly dispose of the documents.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS found out the documents belonged to a car lot called Harlingen Texas Motors. We learned the place was closed down last year.
We spoke to the owner of the business. He said the files were held in a storage unit.
“They told me I had a new credit card and the chip changed on it so they didn’t run it. So they sold it out or foreclosed on it or whatever they call it. So somebody purchased it on Saturday and they threw my files away,” Andre Cano, the owner of Harlingen Texas Motors, said.
Cano said he’s trying to get in contact with the new owner of the storage unit. He wants to either get those files back or make sure they are properly destroyed.
He said in that unit there was about four to five boxes worth of documents.
We spoke with several storage unit owners. They said if a new owner ever comes across sensitive documents, they should notify management. In many cases they will be able to return them to the previous owner or help find a way to properly dispose of them.
The dumpster the documents were found is now empty. The Texas AG’s Office is advising people who used Harlingen Texas Motors to monitor their credit reports.
According to the AG’s Office, improper disposal of a customer’s personal data can land people with some serious fines – up to $500 per record.
The Texas Identity Theft Enforcement Act can also tack on an extra fine up to $50,000.