The Better Business Bureau said apartment complexes like this have an obligation to protect this information at all times.
CHARLOTTE, NC – Dozens of files containing people’s personal information – including Social Security numbers, copies of driver’s licenses and other critical information – have been thrown in the trash of an apartment complex from South Park.
Critical information that could be used to steal someone’s identity was thrown away like trash, all still intact inside boxes. WCNC Charlotte first learned of this when a viewer texted a tip, so Hunter Saenz went to investigate what had happened.
If you have a tip you’d like to share with WCNC Charlotte, text 704-329-3600.
The folders full of papers were found on the sidewalk next to the dumpsters. South Park Morrison apartments just off Colony Road. Inside the files, WCNC Charlotte found rental applications, rental agreements and people’s personal information.
“I stutter because I still can’t believe it” said Steve Murphy.
Murphy and his wife’s file was in one of the boxes. Hunter Sáenz of WCNC Charlotte called Murphy to inform him of the information and documents found.
“You don’t expect any type of phone call where people are going to call and say, ‘I have all your information, driver’s license, social security number,'” Murphy said.
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Murphy and his wife lived in the apartment complex four years ago and hoped the information they provided about living there would be kept safe.
“The first word is unprofessional,” said Murphy, who now lives in Winston-Salem. “Isn’t that professional?”
WCNC Charlotte wanted to know how something like this happened in the first place, so Hunter Sáenz walked into the apartment complex office to ask.
A property manager was not authorized to speak to WCNC Charlotte, but when asked if what was found was the normal approach to rejecting information, the manager had a response.
“Again, it’s not protocol that’s supposed to happen and that’s all I can give at this time,” the manager said.
Minutes later, cameras at WCNC Charlotte were rolling as workers came out to retrieve the boxes of records. Then a The Cadillac Escalade arrived in the area, a worker closed the doors, loaded the files in the back and left.
“It’s your personal identity that is literally scrapped”, Tom Bartholomy with the Better Business Bureau mentioned.
Bartholomy said that all apartment complexes have a legal obligation to pprotect this type of information at all times
WCNC Charlotte asked Bartholomy if the apartment complex is breaking any laws.
“Oes, they actually violated a federal law — by not properly destroying this information,” Bartholomy said.
Bartholomy said if a victim whose information was in one of the boxes files a complaint, the apartment complex could face fines of up to $1,000 for each case.
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A spokesperson for SouthPark Morrison issued a statement to WCNC Charlotte, saying: “Our team takes data privacy very seriously and we are currently reviewing how this happened.”
But for people like Murphy, he demands action because he and his wife remain vulnerable.
“Now we’re going to have to do something – I don’t know who watched it before you took it,” Murphy said.
WCNC Charlotte told the apartment complex that we plan to return the records we find to the resident in question, so they can properly dispose of them if they wish.