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CVS accused of violating Texas identity theft law

CVS accused of violating Texas identity theft law

LIBERTY, Texas—CVS Pharmacy Inc. faces a lawsuit brought by the Texas Attorney General's office after a store outside of Houston allegedly failed to properly dispose of customer files and prescription information, violating state identity theft prevention laws.

According to the lawsuit filed April 17 in the District Court of Liberty County, Texas, the drugstore was either vacant or being vacated on or about March 19 when business records were found in a trash container behind the store.

The records included copies of sale receipts containing customers' names, credit card numbers, expiration dates and refund slips containing similar information, along with addresses, telephone numbers and driver's license numbers. Copies of drug labels containing personal information, and documents with insurance information were also recovered in the trash container, according to the suit.

Because CVS failed to properly dispose of such documents as required in the 2005 state law, the drugstore chain faces fines of up to $50,000 per violation and, for violating a separate information protection law, up to $500 for each abandoned record, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS released a statement on April 18 avowing that the incident violated the company's regular policy of shipping documents to its warehouse facilities for proper disposal. It is not the company's practice to place such documents in the trash, according to the statement.

The drugstore chain also stated that the documents from the Liberty, Texas, store did not involve recent transactions or recent prescription information. The store manager responsible for the event was "separated from the company" following an investigation, according to the statement.

Mr. Abbott, who could not be reached for comment, issued a statement April 17 pledging the state's initiative to crack down on businesses that jeopardize the personal information of their clients.

The CVS incident is the fourth identity theft incident discovered by Mr. Abbott's office in the last two months.

On April 2, Mr. Abbott filed a suit against Fort-Worth, Texas-based RadioShack Corp. after a Corpus Christi, Texas-area store improperly dumped several boxes of receipts that contained customer-identifying information. On March 13, the office filed a lawsuit against On Track Modeling, a Charlotte, N.C.-based talent agency that abandoned more than 60 boxes containing hundreds of confidential client records after the agency abruptly closed its Grand Prairie, Texas, office. A day later, Jones Beauty College in Dallas was named in a lawsuit for improperly discarding student financial aid forms with Social Security numbers and other personal information.

A spokesman in Mr. Abbott's office said lawsuits have followed thorough investigations and that more investigations are ongoing. He would not provide information on the possibility of more lawsuits.

"This is obviously an issue of great concern to the attorney general and we are monitoring several situations," the spokesman said. "This impacts so many Texas consumers."