Bad Ideas, In-House Counsel

Dear In-House Counsel for Macy’s: Buy a Shredder. HTH.

Macys star logo.JPGIn October, we mentioned that the giant department store, Macy’s, was having some trouble disposing of its sensitive documents. Reports surfaced that internal documents, some of which included the Social Security numbers of Macy’s customers, were being disposed of on the streets of St. Louis, in lidless containers.
Now, months after the initial, embarrassing incident, Macy’s is doing it again. Missouri Lawyers Weekly reports (subscription):

Sensitive Macy’s records have again been littering the sidewalks of downtown St. Louis.
The records, meant for disposal, included shoppers’ Social Security numbers, employees’ expense reports, memos from the department store’s attorneys and even a letter from a distressed aunt about a foul-mouthed Santa Claus.

Macy’s — and Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy’s — has had months to fix this obvious problem. Their solution? Wait for it… buy lids for the streetside containers!
Details on this clever plan after the jump.

Apparently, after the first incident, the people at Macy’s felt that the exposure of sensitive documents could be rectified by putting tops on their confidential boxes:

Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported on Macy’s earlier housecleaning in October after company documents were placed in open bins on the sidewalk behind the office and some blew around city streets.
Richard Cohen, group vice-president in Macy’s law department in St. Louis, said at the time that if he had it to do over again, the bins would have lids.
The company did do it over again. And this time the 13 bins did have lids.

I’m not a naturalist, but hasn’t our sophisticated lid technology already been bested by the cunning raccoon and the powerful bear? It just seems that if a fox could gain access to Macy’s documents, then a creature with opposable thumbs is going to have a field day:

The unlocked lids weren’t enough, however, to keep someone from grabbing armfuls of the documents to make a bed, which was partially covered with blankets and liberally scented with urine. A reporter plucked a half-foot high stack of old documents from the reams on the pavement when the bed’s occupant was absent.
Among the items was a tax form filled out by Pamela Smith Pobst, who in 1995 won a $10,000 shopping spree at a Famous-Barr department store.
Last week, the tax form she filled out when she claimed her prize — complete with her Social Security number — was part of the makeshift bed half a block from Macy’s Inc.’s downtown St. Louis offices.

I wonder if this kind of document security incompetence is Macy’s way of advertising openings in its in-house legal department. I’m pretty sure that even a lawyer with an online law degree could advise Macy’s to buy a freaking shredder.
Privacy problems persist [Missouri Lawyers Weekly] (subscription)

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