Texas AG's bin bombers bag him fifth ID-protection lawsuit

Legal News Line May 8, 2007, 1:00pm

Greg Abbott announces his lawsuit against RadioShack last month

AUSTIN -- The Texas Attorney General's identity-protecting dumpster divers aren't fussy about where they fish for evidence of Texas businesses breaking identity-protection laws. Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced legal action against San Antonio-based EZCORP, Inc. and subsidiary EZPAWN for allegedly failing to protect sensitive customer information. Some of Abbott's charges carry a maximum fine of $50,000 per violation. According to a lawsuit Abbott filed Tuesday, several EZPAWN stores in San Antonio violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act (ITEPA), and Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code (BCC). All relate to the secure protection and disposal by companies of material that contains sensitive customer identities and related information. At the San Antonio EZPAWN stores investigators found promissory notes and bank statements with names, addresses, Social Security and driver's license numbers, and checking account data "in easily accessible trash cans behind the stores," Abbott's release stated. The suit is Abbott's fifth in less than two months involving stores tossing their customers' records in the trash instead of safely destroying them. In each case his dumpster-diving evidence-gatherers have recovered key documents from stores' alleyway bins. Abbott most recently sued Rhode Island-based pharmacy chain CVS/Caremark Corp. on two identical charges to EZPAWN's, LegalNewsLine reported last month. He alleged a CVS employee in San Antonio-area Liberty tossed sales receipts and prescriptions into the store's dumpsters. Two weeks earlier he sued Fort Worth-based electronics chain RadioShack for dumping boxes of customer documents into backyard bins at a store in Corpus Christi-area Portland. LegalNewsLine reported that some documents held Social Security numbers and credit card and bank account information. In mid-March Abbott filed two similar actions against smaller businesses alleging breaches of identity-protection laws. Dallas-based Jones Beauty College and Grand Prarie-based On Track Modeling were both charged with tossing clients' sensitive documents into their backyard trash. Abbott's investigators are now scouring bins behind the dozen EZPAWN stores around Texas in search of more improperly disposed customer documents, his release stated. The company operates pawn shops in Austin, Houston, Lubbock and the Rio Grande Valley. Breaches of ITEPA carry maximum penalties of $50,000 per violation compared to DTPA's $25,000. BCC Chapter 35 breaches can be fined up to $500 per document.

More News