Personal documents, SS numbers found in dumpster behind Orlando law firms

Personal documents, SS numbers found in dumpster behind Orlando law firms

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several local law firms could be in hot water for dumping sensitive information containing client information into a dumpster.

Law firms are supposed to shred or burn the information, officials said, but piles of sensitive documents, including bank account information, were in plain sight.

"This has to be a lawyer's worst nightmare, when confidential information inadvertently falls into the wrong hands," said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

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Channel 9 received a tip that the documents were in the dumpster, and reporter Steve Barrett went to the location and removed them before they fell into the wrong hands.

One of the documents was a tax return form. On it were the husband and wife's Social Security numbers and everything someone would need to steal their children's identities.

Barrett took the forms back to Walson Francis, who was shocked that his personal information was discarded in such a manner.

"Are you shocked that I was able to pull that out of the dumpster?" asked Barrett.

"Absolutely. I couldn't believe it. I have no way to explain this one. None," he said.

"You've never used that law office?" asked Barrett.

"Never," said Francis.

In Francis' case, it doesn’t appear any of the documents fell into the hands of anyone with bad intentions, but Sheaffer said it could have been a real problem for the lawyers involved.

One of the lawyers returned Channel 9's phone call and said she was horrified by the lapse and said she'd get to the bottom of it with the landlord of the office building.

The Florida Bar, however, says lawyers are responsible for the proper disposal of records.