Business trash with customers’ information found on side of road

Personal info of dozens left on sidewalk

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Crews for the city of Charlotte’s Solid Waste Operations had to do a litter pickup on Eastway Drive Friday afternoon to retrieve pieces of paper that been on the sidewalk for days. And, it wasn’t your typical sidewalk trash.

“This is crazy,” said one man who first noticed the trash on Wednesday.

“It’s not trash. It’s customers receipts, addresses, phone numbers, how much they owe - stuff that like,” he said. “You don’t do that. I called and said you don’t care about your customers.”

The local resident, who didn’t want to give his name, says what angers him is that on Wednesday he called the business listed on the papers. A manager came out and picked up some of the trash. But on Thursday there was still some on the sidewalk.

“Bottom line is they’re not worried that the customers stuff is out here on the streets" the man said.

WBTV went to the business to find out how information about dozens of customers ended on the roadside. The manager of the Carolina Rent to Own says a they contract with Republic Service to pick up the trash.

The manager says when the pickup was done this week, the workers from Republic evidently didn’t properly empty the trash in the truck’s receptacle. As the trash truck drove around, pieces of paper with customers information were flying around streets.

“The responsibility always falls back on the business because they're the ones that obtained this information and it's up to them to dispose of it properly," said Tom Bartholomy of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Bartholomy says since the pieces of paper on the sidewalk didn't have social security numbers or date of birth or banking information - no federal laws were broken.

And businesses don't have to shred less sensitive information.

“There’s a duty of care - to properly store their information,” said Bartholomy. “Basically know what you have of somebody’s information. Do you need it? Do you need to keep it? Do you need to store it? If you’re going to store it – is it being stored properly? If you don’t need to keep it, how you’re going to dispose of it? That you’re going to be disposing of it properly.”

“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for businesses to dispose of personal identifying information that way. Just put it out in the trash,” said Bartholomy. “We’ve seen this type of thing at least one a year for the last seven, eight years of a business that is basically just putting stuff out in the trash.” The manager of the store says he tried to pick up the pieces of paper on Eastway Drive but the wind blew some away. He says he also called the city to report litter debris.

On Friday, a spokesperson for Charlotte’s Solid Waste Operations told WBTV that they received notification on Thursday about the sidewalk trash and that crews had until Saturday to pick up the remaining pieces of paper.

Friday evening, Republic Services of Charlotte sent WBTV a statement about the incident:

“Republic Services is committed to responsible, safe operations and always welcome feedback from our customers. We are investigating this report, and thank our Charlotte customers for the opportunity to be a good neighbor.”

Crews were out Friday afternoon picking up the litter.

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