Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Texas Attorney General Takes Action Against ID Theft
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been actively enforcing his state's data privacy and security laws. In April, 2007, he filed lawsuits against two companies alleging that their disposal of customers' personal information into trash dumpsters was a violation of Texas law which requires the companies to establish reasonable security disposal procedures with respect to such information. Earlier this year he filed two other cases alleging similar violations of Texas statutes. And most recently, he has filed suit against Lifetime Fitness, a Minnesota company with several Dallas area locations. Bizjournals This suit also alleges a failure to protect customers' personal information by disposing of personal identifying information in easily accessible trash cans behind the businesses. The Texas laws the companies are alleged to have violated are the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires proper destruction of clients' sensitive personal information. In a statement, Abbott said "Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Texans expect their personal information to remain confidential." While it is too early to predict the outcome of these cases, if successful, the companies could face civil penalties of up to $50,000 per violation. It is also an indication that state attorneys general have new ammunition in their efforts to guard against identity theft, and Texas, New York and others are prepared to use it. With identity theft crimes on the rise, companies and employers are well-advised to be vigilant in their protection of personal information of their customers and employees.