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Company Fails To Protect Employees' Confidential Data

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In a trash bin beside an office building in Wichita, Kan., hundreds of personnel files were tossed with confidential information – an easy grab for anyone who wanted to steal someone else's identity.

Robin Monteverde, of Avalon, had her file tossed in that public bin.

"I was shocked that my personal information could have been made public," she told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. "Anyone could have opened multiple credit cards in my name and that would have been financially damaging."

Instead of shredding the documents, the files were tossed by Lone Star Business Solutions that handled the job applications for Lone Star Steakhouse based in Texas.

"I think it's a really irresponsible action," she adds.

Monteverde was not the only former employee of the steakhouse affected.

Sean Monikowski, of Cranberry, worked briefly at the Lone Star Steakhouse in Cranberry. He says he was outraged and scared when he learned that his records had not been shredded.

"Could have ruined my life and my family's future," he said.

Married with two children, Monikowski's social security number and personal information was simply tossed in a bin.

"I was outraged that my private personal data was just out there, especially in the age of identity theft," he said.

Carnegie Mellon University Professor Alessandro Acquisiti is an international expert in privacy issues.

"It's quite appalling that it's still happening nowadays," Acquisiti said.

Shredding documents is an option, but, ironically, no law requires that yet.

Monteverde says we need the same rules that protect medical information.

"Your personal information should also be protected and not made public," she said.

And Monikowski has this advice for Lone Star and every other employer.

"Clean up your act because you're going to lose business and it's unacceptable," he said.

Certainly if your identity was stolen because of the carelessness of a former employer, you would have the basis for a lawsuit.

Lone Star Steakhouse has not returned calls from KDKA-TV.

Here's the best advice experts give -- check with your employer and make sure they have a policy to protect your personal identity information.

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