AG Looking Into Houston File Dumping Case

July 18 , 2008 in Industry News

HOUSTON—Bankruptcy case files dumped in a Houston trash bin have gotten the attention of the Texas Attorney. After 11 News broke the story about the 32 boxes of personal – and sensitive—information discarded in a dumpster, the AG says there is a potential that “hundreds or thousands of violations” occurred.

Earlier this week, after the owners of the dumpster found the files, they contacted the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies tracked the hundreds of case files – many with personal financial information in them – to local attorney William Weber.

The files were discarded in a dumpster miles away from his law office. None appeared to have been shredded and exposed people to potential identity theft.

“It’s a mistake… We regret it. We regret it,” Weber told 11 News when he came to pick up the boxes after being contacted by the sheriff’s deputies.

Deputies said the attorney told them the files in the dumpster were “No big deal.” They said too they could not find anything to charge Weber with on Monday night.

However, on Thursday, Attorney General Gregg Abbott said he could find plenty.

“If there were boxes of documents that potentially contained hundreds or thousands of names, that could potentially be hundreds or thousands of violations,” Abbott said.

Violations of the Texas ID Theft Act. It is a civil law that requires business to destroy or make unreadable anything containing clients’ personal information. It carries up to a 50,000 fine per violation for those found to have violated the law.

“It is a very expensive proposition not to comply,” said Abbott. “It is in every business’ best interest for their bottom line to comply with the law.”

That is what one woman, whose files were in that stack in the trash wants.

“I want justice. I think we all should be seeking justice,” said the woman, whose identity 11 News agreed to not reveal. “Because what he did was… It was a violation.”

Abbott would not comment on the specifics of the Weber case because the sheriff’s office did contact his office about the files. The attorney general did point out that Texas is No. 2 in the nation among states when it comes to identity theft complaints.

Houston, as it turns out, is the No. 1 city in Texas for such complaints.

Weber confirmed that he has been contacted by the AG’s office and said he will cooperate with any investigation. He also said he destroyed all of the documents that were found in the trash.