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Sensitive personal data tossed in the trash




Sensitive personal data tossed in the trash
Sensitive personal data tossed in the trash



http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2007/jan/02/566624174.html 

By Abigail Goldman
Las Vegas Sun
January 02, 2007

A nosy neighbor looking for illegal trash spotted 40 boxes in a Dumpster 
on Decatur Boulevard - a closer look revealed financial paperwork that 
could have been an "identity theft buffet."

He called city officials, who called police, who determined the boxes 
contained sensitive financial information and hauled them away before 
they could fall into the wrong hands.

Now the boxes are sitting in a police impound waiting for someone to 
decide what to do with them and just whose problem it is.

The boxes were discovered Dec. 20 discarded in a Dumpster at 811 S. 
Decatur Blvd.

The neighbor who discovered the boxes has had problems with loose 
rubbish and litter around the office building's trash bin before, so 
when he noticed the financial papers sitting out in the open, he called 
City of Las Vegas Code Enforcement officials.

He also informed City Councilman Lois Tarkanian, who sent her liaison, 
Robin Munier, to check out the Dumpster while she finished up a Council 
meeting.

By the time Tarkanian arrived, Munier and the City Code Enforcement 
officials were standing around the Dumpster with Metro Police.

It was clear to everyone, Tarkanian said, that the boxes could not be 
left in the Dumpster and the police should haul them away.

"I looked at the boxes, and I will tell you I was shocked," she said. 
"To let them float around like that. Imagine who had their whole lives 
in there."

A box that was immediately visible contained paperwork with bank account 
details, photocopies of driver's licences, Social Security numbers and 
other private information, Tarkanian said.

The councilwoman estimated the boxes contained thousands of people's 
personal information.

Metro Police spokesman Bill Cassell described the boxed documents as 
"the type of information you would submit if you were applying for a 
loan or a mortgage."

Police called mortgage broker Gregory Navone to the scene. Navone is 
president of two companies registered to the Decatur address, First 
Interstate Reality Inc. and BNG LLC, according to the Nevada Secretary 
of State Web site. Navone has another business, First Interstate 
Mortgage, just down the street.

"I don't know what was in those boxes," Navone said a week later. "I am 
not clear who put them there."

Photographs acquired by the Sun from the evening the boxes were seized 
show at least one document reportedly pulled from the Dumpster bearing 
Navone's name and phone number, handwritten.

Presented with a photograph of the document, Navone said he doubted the 
paper was really seized from the Dumpster and suggested it had been 
stolen from his office. He added that the document contained no private 
information.

Tarkanian called the impounded boxes a triumph of teamwork between her 
Ward 1 residents, city officials and police.

In the past 10 years, there have been six "correction notices" given to 
property owners for loose trash and rubbish coming from the office 
building. This was the first time anyone had noticed sensitive 
information was being thrown away, Tarkanian said.

"I think it's totally unbelievable," she said. "What type of company 
would do that to you? This was Decatur Boulevard, for goodness sake. 
There's a lot of things happening on Decatur Boulevard."

It remains to be seen what - if anything - will come of the discarded 
boxes.

Metro Police are not investigating the incident any further because it 
does not appear to be a violation of any city or county laws, Cassell 
said.

The police have informed federal authorities of the impounded boxes, he 
said, and are holding them now for "safekeeping."

David Staretz, a spokesman for the FBI's Las Vegas field office, said 
the local bureau was unaware of the Dumpster discovery.

Nevada attorney general's office spokesman Nicole Moon said her office 
was also unaware of the impounded boxes. Moon pointed out that Nevada 
Revised Statutes require businesses to take "responsible measures" to 
destroy documents containing personal information, such as a Social 
Security number or driver's license.

Katherine Armstrong, an attorney from the Federal Trade Commission's 
Bureau of Consumer Affairs, which regulates mortgage companies, also had 
not heard of the dumped boxes but was eager to learn more.

Leaving the boxes in a Dumpster could be a violation of the federal 
Disposal Rule, which requires "proper disposal of information in 
consumer reports and records" by mortgage brokers and similar 
businesses, Armstrong said.

"It is critical whoever has jurisdiction over this to find out exactly 
what was dumped," Armstrong said.

On Thursday, about a week after the boxes were discovered, the Dumpster 
was empty and a For Sale sign was posted outside the Decatur Boulevard 
building.

All contents Copyright 1996 - 2007 Las Vegas Sun, Inc.


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