Employees' personal information left in dumpster - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Employees' personal information left in dumpster

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Identity theft is a big problem in this country. Thousands of people have to spend hundreds of dollars every year to clear their financial records of damage caused by hackers or dumpster divers.

It doesn't help when your employer makes it easy for them.

Former employees of one valley restaurant weren't happy to learn they had a very close call.

"This trash was so full that you could see the employee records right on top right here," says Roger Quinte III.

Roger Quinte was cleaning out his storage shed at Extra Space Storage on north 32nd Street when he found files of what appeared to be employee records sitting on top of a full dumpster.

"Opened it up and sure enough it had employees' personal information in it for a company here in town."

That company turned out to be the Bombay Spice Company, a nearby restaurant.

The documents were personnel files from the restaurant -- application forms, photos of drivers' licenses and birth certificates from what appeared to be former employees.

Quinte called us, and we showed the files to Data Doctors founder Ken Colburn, an expert on identity theft.

"This is unbelievable," says Colburn.

Colburn looked through dozens of employee folders and he didn't like what he saw.

"The ability to completely take over their lives electronically is sitting right here. We have home addresses social security numbers date of birth phone numbers everything."

Colburn told us everything an identity thief would need was there to open new credit card accounts, access e-mails, even file false IRS tax refunds.

It was all right there in that stack of papers, employee records from Bombay Spice Company.

"With a couple of clicks of the mouse and a couple of submissions you could be basically taking over anybody in this piles' identity."

We tracked down one former Bombay Spice employee. We found Alexandra's cell phone number in her discarded personnel file. She wasn't happy about it.

"Oh my gosh all the W-4 forms I filled out, my social security… especially, it was just found in a dumpster some stranger picked it up."

The files even included her high school record.

"Now I want to take all of my files with me when I quit a job," says Alexandra.

The restaurant owner declined our requests for on camera interview. He did give us a written statement which said in part: "Employee records are kept confidential and retained, and when no longer necessary and current are destroyed by shredding. The cooperation of Fox News is appreciated and Bombay Spice thanks you for bringing this matter to its attention."

Bombay Spice Company did say they were thrown out by mistake, and it requested the records be returned. We handed them over to a courier hired by the restaurant's attorney.

"Make sure they destroy their records and not allow such information to be released to the general public," says Quinte.

Bombay Spice Company did tell us they never intended for the documents to be removed from their storage facility, and promised they would be kept secured.

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