Comptroller says county carelessly disposed sensitive documents

May 21, 2013

The privacy of hundreds of Erie County residents has been breached, according to the county's top fiscal watchdog.

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says an ongoing audit discovered copies of of than 1,000 documents containing highly confidential and personal records were carelessly disposed of by the Department of Social Services.

Mychajliw says unshredded records were carelessly disposed at the county Rath Building.
Credit File photo of Rath Building

The records were placed in open boxes and totes in an unsecured area of the Rath Building basement. Among the documents were social security cards, bank account information, passports, and medical records.

"The Department of Social Services said that we could not look at these records because they supposedly were so private in nature, yet they were brazenly and haphazardly dumping them in open boxes in the garbage that were eventually taken to a locking dock that is open to the public," Mychajliw says.

None of the records were shredded. The comptroller says the disposal process has been stopped, but he says he believes this could have been happening for years. 

The Poloncarz Administration says it has corrected the problem. But Mychajliw says he is waiting for the Administration to notify state and federal governments about this security breach for potential identity theft.