Gordon Supply Company was an auto parts distributor that closed its doors in 2008, but attention toward the business rose again when a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resident found two trash bags full of confidential information, according to a local FOX affiliate. Some folders included the former employees’ photographs, Social Security numbers and even medical information.

Herb Gordon, the owner of the once active business, did not know files were still inside the building he leased out to another tenant.

Even though this lack of proper records management is alarming and could cause legal action against Gordon in some parts of the United States, there is no regulation in Pennsylvania that requires employers to shred these files. However, had an individual been harmed by the accidental disclosure of private information, there are criminal and civil laws that could have been used to bring charges and seek compensation.

How the bag full of folders were found

Cedarbrook resident Linda Goode noticed there were two filled trash bags sitting in her driveway. When Goode stepped outside, her neighbor accompanied her to see what the contents were.

Goode contacted FOX when the police and her local state representative didn’t take action because she was unsure what to do with the folders that she found within the bags. Goode added that there was so much confidential information in these bags it was like a “heaven for [identity] theft.”

Gordon took personal responsibility and collected the files and got them shredded, despite the fact he was not legally obligated to do so. In other states, this situation can escalate simply from the exposure—potentially seeing fines imposed against the employer for not properly destroying the paperwork.

An information management provider can assist businesses in this situation by safely shredding specific documents. It can even hold onto them for safekeeping if the business is legally obligated to retain them.