Anger over dumped files


FILES containing sensitive personal details of 37 men and women have been found dumped on a nature strip at Somerville.

The details were provided to a gymnasium on handwritten “athlete’s personal profile” forms.

The dumped paperwork, which comes from a gymnasium, also includes invoices and notes detailing how much money has been paid to employees, including the manager’s take home pay. The files were contained in a pink plastic bag, one of several left next to a rubbish bin outside a factory in Speedwell St.

The owner of the factory said the bags would probably have remained on the nature strip as the commercial rubbish collection service involved a truck with a mechanical arm emptying wheelie bins.

Loose bags of rubbish were not part of the collection service.

“I heard a car doing burn-offs outside and then found the bags dumped near our bins,” the manager, who did not wish to be identified, said.

“I was annoyed by the noise and then discovered what the bags contained.”

The top file had been filled out by a member of the police force who also belonged to a Western Port area football team.

He provided his mother’s name, address and phone number.

Another file had details of a Mt Eliza woman whose exercise regime would need to take account of her breast implants.

The files have been handed to Hastings police who, the factory manager said, showed little interest until she pointed out that at least one file appeared to list the personal contact details of a police officer.

When contacted by The News yesterday (Monday 21 December) Hastings police were unable to say if any investigations were underway with regard to the discarded files.

While annoying to the individuals concerned, it appears that businesses with annual turnovers of less than $3 million do not generally come under the provisions of the Privacy Act.

“There would be 37 very unhappy customers if they knew their details were dumped on a roadside, especially the police officer, by their local friendly gym,” the manager who discovered the files said.

“That’s 37 people who have had their security compromised.”

The manager said it appeared the gym “wanted to spread some Christmas spirit so had a tidy up in the office and put out their rubbish”.

“There were also such details as their business name, address, contact details, wages, tax, monthly turnover, which bank, how much banked,  an unpaid account, what type of security they have and that account number and names of staff.”

A 20-year-old woman contacted by the The News said she was outraged to learn that her file had been dumped, adding that she had not been to the gym for some months.

“This is absolutely terrible. I’m sure I signed some sort of privacy agreement and certainly didn’t want any of my personal details distributed.”

The factory manager who found the gym’s files said a $30 shredder “would have solved this”.

“The dumpers need to do more workouts in the gym as they could not even lift the lid on either [of our] bins to put rubbish in.

“They should not have drawn attention to themselves when illegally dumping by doing snakes and smoking burnouts when departing.”

The policeman, 25, told The News the dumping of his personal details was “not something I would have expected. It surprises me; they seem to be pretty professional”.

Although he had not attended the gym because of a sporting injury for a about a month, the 25-year-old said he planned to return there in the New Year.

He said privacy laws had been tightened, especially with regard to those working in occupations such as law enforcement.

“It’s not ideal and it’s not really what you’d expect,” he said.

The gym owner, who was annoyed that The News would publish anything about the discarded files,  said he had no idea how they had come to be dumped outside a Somerville factory.

“This is extremely strange, I don’t know how the files got there,” the man said. “I haven’t got a clue.”

The gym owner said he regularly took files home “in the back of my ute” and would dump them in bins at a sporting club.

“I have not given them to anyone else. I’d have to be extremely stupid [to dump them on a nature strip], this is too bizarre.”

The gym owner said he did not have a shredder.

First published in the Western Port News – 22 December 2015


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