The Texas attorney general has charged RadioShack with violating identity protection laws by dumping thousands of customer records in a garbage bin behind a Texas store.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hit the retailer Monday with two charges. One of the charges carries a penalty of up to $50,000 for each violation and one has a penalty of up to $500 for each abandoned record. Abbott contends RadioShack's actions exposed its customers to identity theft since the records contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and credit card information.
The Attorney General's Office is investigating whether the tossed information has been used in identity theft crimes.
Steve Schmidt, an area VP for RadioShack, called the breach an isolated incident. The consumer electronics chain operates around 4,500 stores.
"We are aware of today's action by the Texas Attorney General's office, and we fully intend to work amicably with them in reaching a resolution to the matter," said Schmidt in an e-mail statement. "RadioShack takes seriously its obligation to maintain and safeguard all company records, especially when they contain a customer's non-public information. Our Northshore Plaza store in Portland, Texas, is part of a shredding program we have in place throughout the state for the secure disposal and destruction of such documents as required by Texas law. In this isolated instance, the store did not act in accordance with this program. However, we moved quickly to reclaim and secure those documents."
The Attorney General's Office launched an investigation after receiving reports that RadioShack employees dumped bulk customer records in garbage containers behind a store in Portland, which is near Corpus Christi, according to a release from the AG's office. Investigators found the records contained sensitive customer information, including Social Security numbers, credit and debit card information, names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
The records included personal information from one customer's 1998 credit application and a receipt from a local woman who purchased a shredder from RadioShack to protect herself from identity theft, the attorney general reported. Sensitive information from a credit card issued to the city of Portland also was discovered among the discarded records.
"Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States," Abbott said. "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."
Abbott charged RadioShack with violating provisions of the state's 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires the protection and proper destruction of clients' sensitive personal information. He also charged the company with violations under Chapter 35 of the state's Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients' personal information.
Consumers who interacted with the Portland store are being warned to carefully monitor bank, credit card, and any similar statements for evidence of theft. Customers also should consider obtaining free copies of their credit reports.
Consumers who wish to file a complaint may contact the Attorney General's Office at 800-252-8011 or file a complaint online at this site, where they also can obtain information on how to detect and prevent identity theft.