San Antonio rehab facility sued for identity protection violations

Drew Smith Sep. 29, 2008, 4:51pm

Greg Abbott (R)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Legal Newsline) -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed charges against a San Antonio-based company for failing to protect its customers' personal information.

Treatment Associates of Victoria, Inc. is a drug testing and rehabilitation facility that had "unlawfully dumped bulk client records in publicly accessible garbage containers," Abbott said.

The suit claims Treatment Associates was in violation of the Texas Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act

"Identity theft continues to be one of the most devastating white-collar crimes in the country," Abbott said. "This defendant faces severe penalties for failing to protect its clients' sensitive personal and medical information. The Office of the Attorney General will continue working to protect Texans from identity thieves."

The illegal dumping led to the sensitive information of 44 clients -- including medical information, Social Security numbers and substance abuse records -- to be exposed.

Treatment Associates is facing up to $50,000 per violation and civil penalties of up to $500 for each abandoned record. The company is also charged with violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the Texas Health and Safety Code.

The additional violations could result in an additional $20,000 per violation of the DTPA and up to $25,000 per violation under the Health and Safety Code.

The suit is part of an ongoing effort by Abbott's office to combat identity crimes. Texas currently ranks fourth among states in identity theft incidents. Abbott has obtained more than $2.6 million in civil penalties for future identity theft prosecutions and reached agreements with businesses to improve their document disposal systems.

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