The actor Peter Finch spoke those immortal words in the 1976 movie Network. Playing a TV news anchor driven mad by crime, recession, pollution and punks, Finch’s character soon has thousands of likewise enraged viewers throwing open their windows and joining him in his rant: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
I read and write about identity theft every day, and have seen so much that it seldom pisses me off anymore. But, once again someone has brazenly—in fact, criminally—dumped their customers’ records into an unlocked Dumpster where anybody who wants them can have them.
This time, Pastor Franklin Clark found hundreds of records from a home improvement company, Home Solution Pros, in a Dumpster behind his Charlotte, NC church.
The paperwork included customers’ names, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and credit histories.
“For people who sell stuff like this here, just think about it—this is a gold mine,” said Pastor Clark.
Home Solution Pros abruptly left their leased space in Cornelius, NC last December, according to the landlord. And, when they left, he said they left behind equipment, files and a mess big enough that it recently cost him $5,000 to get it cleaned up.
He told a reporter from a local TV station, WSOC, he took the files abandoned in the office to a shred even last weekend, and wonders if they’re the same records found in the Dumpster—as if the shredding company collected documents and dumped them behind Pastor Clark’s church when no one was looking.
Whether Home Solution Pros, the shredders or the landlord dumped the records, somebody has violated North Carolina’s Identity Theft Protection Act, and could be fined $5,000 for each record—not each incident, each individual record.
That means, if Pastor Clark was right, and there were, say, 500 records in the trash, and if the North Carolina Attorney General's office followed through, the fine could be as much as $2.5 million. I’d still be mad as hell, but I’ll bet in the future there’d be a lot fewer records criminally pitched into Dumpsters.