PLS Financial/Payday Loan Store settles government charges of improper disposal of customer records

Via Courthouse News:

PLS Financial Services/The Payday Loan Store/PLS Check Cashers, which have more than 300 outlets in 9 states, expose customers to ID theft by dumping personal financial information into Dumpsters, the USA says in Federal Court.

The lawsuit was brought at the request of the FTC, and I’ve uploaded the complaint and stipulated judgment and order here.

The FTC sought prosecution of PLS under the FTC Act and FCRA. The charges arose following incidents where customer data were found unshredded in dumpsters in Illinois. In their complaint, the government alleges that PLS failed to provide consumers with required privacy notices, failed to develop and implement information security programs, and provided assurances that personal data were protected when they were not adequately protected. The improper disposal violated the Disposal of Consumer Report Information and Records rule.

As a result of the failures described above, intact documents containing consumers’ personal information were found on multiple occasions in dumpsters near PLS Loan Stores and/or PLS Check Cashers, which were unsecured and easily accessible to the public. For example, in April 2010, boxes of documents were recovered from a dumpster near the Bolingbrook, Illinois, PLS Loan Store at 346/348 Bolingbrook Commons. In the same month, additional documents were retrieved from dumpsters located near the PLS Loan Stores and/or PLS Check Cashers locations at 4838 South Cicero, Chicago, Illinois; 628 West 14th Street, Chicago Heights, Illinois; and 1515 Western Avenue, Chicago Heights, Illinois. These documents contained nonpublic personal information, including customers’ names, addresses, Social Security numbers, wage information, bank account information, cancelled checks, loan applications, loan agreements, receipts for loan payments, at least 29 consumer reports, and other sensitive consumer information that had been collected by PLS and PLS-Illinois.

Under the terms of the settlement, PLS and PLS-Illinois will pay $ 101,500.00 as a civil penalty. They also agreed to undergo biennial audits for 20 years and to develop an information security program.

The state of Illinois had sued Payday Loan Store in October 2010 over these incidents, and I am trying to find out what happened with that lawsuit, too.

This is not the first time the FTC has sued an entity over improper disposal of paper records.  They previously settled cases involving disposal of paper records with  CVS, RiteAid,  and Gregory Navone and his two former mortgage brokerage companies (First Interstate Mortgage Corporation and Nevada One Corporation).

Image credit: Flickr:Swanksalot

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