CLEARWATER, Florida - A dumpster is for garbage, right? But one in Clearwater contained not garbage, but a treasure trove of information for would-be identity thieves.
A concerned viewer contacted 10 News after spotting the documents and, at our urging, he also called police.
So what was in the dumpster for just anyone to find? 10 News took just one box and started sorting through it. It didn't take us long to find the kind of information that should be carefully guarded: Social Security numbers, bank statements, and even full tax returns.
The paperwork comes from a company called TMC Financial Services, a mortgage lender once based in Colorado. Now, it appears to be out of business. However, some of the paperwork also listed an address at the commerce park where the dumpster was located.
10 News reached two people by phone whose personal information was tossed so carelessly.
"I'm very concerned about this," said Brenda Evans, who lives in Mississippi. "Because that is very vital information. I wouldn't want it released to anyone."
Another woman who didn't want to be identified told 10 News her husband had been in contact with the company several years ago and that it was a bad experience. Now, the news that his Social Security number was among the dumped documents just adds to that anger. "This information out there in dumpsters...for just anyone to retrieve, that scares me," she said.
10 News went to the Clearwater address listed on some of the TMC paperwork. The door was open, but no one was inside the emptied office space. We then went to the leasing office at the Clearwater 19 Commerce Park. A woman who wouldn't give her name said that TMC had never rented there. She told 10 News that crews readying the office space for a new tenant had not dumped the documents either. She then requested that we leave the property.
Clearwater police are now investigating the document dumping. A spokesperson said the results of that investigation will be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission and the State Attorney General's Office.
Late Monday afternoon, Clearwater police also requested the city's solid waste department pick up the materials in the dumpster. All the paperwork will be under lock and key Monday night and, on Tuesday, it will be burned.