Federal Trade Commission Issues Fine on Improper Disposal
On December 18, 2007, the US Federal Trade Commission fined an Illinois-based mortgage company for leaving documents with consumers’ sensitive personal and financial information in and around an unsecured dumpster. The FTC files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to be involving public interest. The FTC claims that American United Mortgage Company violated the Disposal, Safeguards, and Privacy rules by failing to properly dispose of credit reports and information and not providing customers with privacy notices.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the mortgage company collects personal information about consumers, including Social Security numbers, bank and credit card account numbers, income and credit histories, and consumer reports. It has come to the FTC’s attention that since late 2005, the company has failed to provide appropriate measures to secure customers’ information.
The final judgment required American United Mortgage Company to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for violations of the Disposal, Safeguards, and Privacy rules. “Every business whether large or small, must take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect sensitive consumer information, from acquisition to disposal,” FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said. “This agency will continue to prosecute companies that fail to fulfill their legal responsibility to protect consumers’ personal information.”
The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to help spot, stop, and avoid them.
For more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s Disposal, Safeguards, and Privacy rules or to obtain more information on this case, go to the FTC’s web site at http://www.ftc.gov