Insurance files found in Richardson dumpster

June 13, 2008

By Rebecca Lopez / WFAA-TV

RICHARDSON - You expect when you give your private information to an insurance company, it will stay that way.

But on Friday, hundreds of files with people's names, social security numbers and policy numbers were found in a Richardson dumpster - a gold mine for identity thieves.

The files contain a lot of private information. The people who filled out the forms probably never expected them to end up where anyone could simply walk away with them.

Mike McCarty was driving by a dumpster near his work in Richardson. He saw a man taking pictures of trash inside, so he stopped.

"If you look through these far enough, you'll find most of the data that a thief would be looking for," McCarty said.

"[The man] said he was looking for empty boxes because he was going to move but he found a bunch of these files."

There were files with people's names, addresses, social security numbers and even pictures of their homes and cars.

"Not something you would want to find in a dumpster," said McCarty.

The files were dumped here by a company called Texas Insurance Claims Services which processes people's claims.

We asked the owner why he threw them away. He wouldn't go on camera but said he was only required to keep the files five years and could then toss them.

"These people have a responsibility to control this data and properly dispose of it. Somebody took a shortcut here," said McCarty.

The company says it sometimes uses commercial shredding services but decided not to do so this time. Authorities say it's not unusual for criminals to dumpster dive to look for ways to get personnel information that they can use to illegally run up huge bills.

"I would be very upset if all my data was out here like this," said McCarty.

The dumpster was full of files. Most of them were taken away by garbage collectors. We are shredding the few we took for our story.

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