Texas AG Sues Pawn Shop Chain for Dumping Customer Records

May 9, 2007

The Texas Attorney General’s Office filed suit against a pawn shop chain on May 8, claiming it “systematically” exposed customers to identity theft.

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office said investigators found that several EZPAWN stores in San Antonio dumped business records that included promissory notes and bank statements with names, addresses, Social Security and drivers license numbers and checking account information. The records were found in trash bins behind stores, Abbott’s office said.

The suit also names Austin-based EZCORP Inc., of which EZPAWN is a subsidiary. Investigators found evidence that documents were dumped at EZPAWN stores in Austin, Houston, Lubbock and the Rio Grande Valley, and Abbott’s office said it was investigating whether the data have been used illegally.

Those named in the lawsuit are accused of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act and Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code. Abbott’s office didn’t specify the number of customers affected.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texans expect their personal information to remain confidential.”

EZCORP President and CEO Joe Rotunda said in a statement that the company has strong privacy policies such as a “paperless” document system, written document retention policies and regular store audits.

“However, even with our strong privacy policies and procedures, the issues cited by the attorney general appear to be the result of human error,” Rotunda said. “We are committed to working closely with the Office of the Attorney General on this issue and will continue to work hard to set the industry standard for customer safety, privacy and identity security.”

The recent lawsuit was Abbott’s fifth related to identity theft recently. In April Abbott sued CVS Corp., alleging pharmacy employees dumped credit card numbers, medical information and other sensitive material from more than 1,000 customers into a garbage container. Abbott also sued Fort Worth-based RadioShack Corp. in April after customer records were dumped in trash bins near a Corpus Christi store.

On the Net:
Texas Attorney General: http://www.oag.state.tx.us/
EZCORP: http://www.ezcorp.com/

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