Chris Rizo Jun. 23, 2008, 8:42pm
Greg Abbott (R)
AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline)-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday reached an agreement with a pawn and payday lending company to settle claims it dumped customer records in trash bins.
Under the settlement, Austin-based EZCORP Inc. will pay $600,000 to the state, the company said in a statement. The company operates EZMONEY and EZPAWN stores.
The settlement will go to fund future identity theft investigations, the attorney general's office said.
Abbott sued the pawn shop and payday loan company last year, alleging that it had carelessly dumped documents that included loan applications, exposing consumers to identity theft.
In all, state investigators found evidence that 483 individual customers' records were improperly discarded, the attorney general's office said.
Among records EZCORP stores allegedly disposed of in trash bins: promissory notes and bank statements that contained names, addresses, Social Security and driver's license numbers, and checking account information.
Texas law requires that vendors must take specific precautions before discarding documents that include customers' bank accounts, driver's license and Social Security numbers.
Although EXCORP contested the claims against it, the company agreed to the settlement.
"After an extended period of factual and legal debate and negotiations, it became clear that it is in the best interests of both parties to settle this matter rather than pursue costly litigation. We mutually agreed to mediate the case and reached a settlement of $600,000," said EZCORP CEO and president Joe Rotunda.
Rotunda added that no customer was harmed by the company's actions, and that the company has implemented a series of identity protection policies to protect its customers.
"We invested additional resources in technology and information security and continue to do so in an ongoing manner to enhance identity protection and security for our customers," Rotunda said.
"We regularly evaluate our operations and look for new ways to protect our customers against identity theft," he added.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.