Exclusive: Documents found in mall parking lot

January 5, 2010 3:44:12 PM PST
Hundreds of documents with personal information like social security numbers were found in the parking lot of a popular mall. The papers were just flying around for anyone to take.

So who dumped them? And was anyone's identity ripped off?

The confidential papers were found by a man at the Palisades Mall in Rockland County. To make it worse, and what really got the man angry, is that no one at the mall seemed interested in taking those documents back.

Jenna Zaccaro's initial reaction was surprise, followed by anger after seeing an old job application with critical personal information. It was found outside the mall, blowing in the wind.

"I mean, you hear horror stories all the time about people having their identities stolen," she said. "It's really, really upsetting to me."

The documents were gathered up Sunday night by a retired narcotics and vice cop who, because of the nature of his undercover work, doesn't want to be identified. And it's because of that law enforcement background that he says he was troubled by what he found.

"Just the carelessness and callousness of just throwing that stuff out like that, like it's garbage," he said. "It's certainly not garbage."

The applications are for a clothing store named Metropark, a Los Angeles-based chain. The paperwork asks for the applicant's social security number, past employment history and detailed contact information. On many, a second form asks for birthday and even driver's license number. Most of the applicants are in their late teens or early 20s. A credit expert says young people are even more at risk of identity theft.

"They still may be bouncing from their address in college to now they've moved back home, and so some of the bills that they may be getting for accounts they really didn't open could go to an old address that they won't see until later," Helayne Urban said.

Metropark had no comment other than to say the matter is under investigation. That is something that doesn't sit right with those who hoped to one day work for the retailer.

"For all my information to just be there, especially the way things are now, people get desperate," Roberto Polanco said. "And they won't care about anyone else."