TOPEKA – (January 12, 2016) – A national company that manages business documents violated Kansas law by repeatedly disposing of documents containing personal information by dumping them in public trash receptacles, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a lawsuit filed this week.
The attorney general’s filing in Shawnee County District Court alleges that Searchtec, Inc., and its employees frequently disposed of customers’ business records that contained personal information by dropping them in alley dumpsters rather than by shredding or otherwise destroying them. On one occasion, the company is accused of dumping documents in a trash receptacle inside the downtown Topeka post office.
“The State alleges Defendants [violated consumer privacy laws] … by repeatedly disposing of records containing personal information by dumping them in various unsecured waste receptacles owned by other persons in and about the City of Topeka without rendering the personal information unreadable or undecipherable,” the lawsuit states.
“Personal information” includes information such as a social security number, driver’s license number, financial account number or credit or debit card number that can be misused to commit identity theft or otherwise harm the person whose information is compromised. Under Kansas law, businesses that collect the personal information of others have a duty to safeguard it.
The lawsuit alleges a violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and seeks civil penalties, costs and an injunction requiring the company to properly safeguard personal information entrusted to it. District Judge Teresa Watson yesterday issued a temporary restraining order preventing further disposal of those records.
The case is State ex rel v. Searchtec, Inc., et al. A copy of the petition and temporary restraining order are available at http://bit.ly/2jbllaW.