We dropped by, picked up, and dug through trash at about a dozen area businesses. Over two nights, in about four hours were able to pick out the names, addresses and social security numbers for four people.
We decided to let them decide what to do with the documents.
Lisa Mayer was in a car crash last year, and she hired a personal injury attorney.
We found her personal information, social security number, phone numbers, address, and details about her accident in her attorney's dumpster.
She says by tossing her info out, her attorney is adding insult to injury.
“It’s disrespectful to me. I mean that’s really all I can say. It’s just really disrespectful for me that my stuff is just laying around for anyone to get. I mean, if you’re going to look through the trash, who isn’t?” Mayer said of her attorney.
We found two sets of information on a father and daughter. The seven-year-old girl was bitten by a dog last summer, and they've also hired a personal injury attorney.
We returned her information to her mother, who was shocked by what we found.
”I’m thinking she could have her credit ruined before she’s 18, easily!" Christina Klingerman is thinking about what could have happened if her daughter’s information had fallen into the wrong hands.
Beyond just credit, she's thinking of the little girl’s safety.
”There’s all kinds of scary people out there a seven-year-old girl they’ve got her address and everything. I don’t know that’s,” Klingerman’s thoughts drift off.
We returned those documents to their rightful owners, but we still had other valuable trash; a credit card statement, some e-mail login info, and a check reorder form complete with routing and account numbers.
We also had prescriptions from a local pharmacy. It's information that might seem harmless enough, but Captain Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department tells us in the wrong hands, these little pieces of paper could lead to a big payoff and big crime.
“The threat is if you’re trying to burglarize the person because you’re trying to find out who has specific kind of marketable narcotic. For example oxycontin, very high street value and if you’re looking for specifically for someone whose being prescribed a large dose of oxycontin, you could potentially have their name and address,” Trent observes of the documents we show him.
We no longer have the prescriptions, or any of the information we found. What we didn't give back, we shredded. It’s a simple enough task; it takes all of three seconds with our shredder.
It’s three seconds two women wish someone would have taken to protect their and their loved ones' information
“I shred all my stuff so I don’t under stand being an attorney’s office why my stuff would be just tossed out and not shredded itself,” Mayer says.
Klingerman adds, “That’s really scary. it makes you think twice about giving anyone information.”