Texas Sues RadioShack After Retailer Dumps Thousands of Customer Records

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-04-03 Print this article Print

Officials are trying to determine if the exposed data has been used illegally and is advising customers of the Portland store to monitor their bank, credit card and other financial statements for signs of theft.

Texas is suing RadioShack after the retailers employees dumped thousands of customer records in garbage bins behind a store near Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 21. The records contained Social Security numbers, credit and debit card information, names, addresses and telephone numbers, according to investigators. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott late on Monday filed documents charging that RadioShack had violated a 2005 law—the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act—requiring businesses to protect and properly destroy any consumer records that contain sensitive information, including Social Security and bank account numbers.
Click here to read more about the massive data breach at TJX.
RadioShack issued a statement saying that the Portland, Texas, store was out of line in this "isolated instance." The Portland store is part of a shredding program that RadioShack uses throughout Texas to ensure that documents are destroyed according to Texas law. "In this isolated instance, the store did not act in accordance with this program," according to the statement. RadioShack said it intends to work "amicably" with the Texas attorney general and that it takes seriously its obligation to maintain and safeguard company records, "especially when they contain a customers non-public information." The retail company also said that it has moved quickly to reclaim and to secure the dumped documents. The attorney general also charged RadioShack with violating Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for clients personal information. That charge could translate into fines up to $500 for each dumped record. The Texas AGs office provided a PDF showing a typical dumped receipt. Ironically, the image of the receipt showed that the customer had purchased a "Royal Combo Crosscut" paper shredder, for $29.99—a fact that the AGs office gleefully highlights. Other records included one consumers 1998 credit application and sensitive information from a credit card issued to the city of Portland. Portland Police Chief Randy Wright joined the AG in denouncing the stores careless treatment of sensitive customer information. "Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States," Attorney General Abbott said in a statement. "Texans expect their personal information to be protected. The Office of the Attorney General will take all necessary steps to ensure that consumers are protected from identity thieves." The AGs office is trying to determine if the exposed data has been used illegally and is advising customers of the Portland store to monitor their bank, credit card and other financial statements for signs of theft. The AG also advised consumers to consider obtaining free copies of their credit reports. Consumers who wish to file a complaint can call the AGs office at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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