best tracker Greenville Co. council members demand answers, action after 100s of docs dumped – Techss

Greenville Co. council members demand answers, action after 100s of docs dumped

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Just a day after residents expressed their concerns about hundreds of sensitive documents left unsecured behind the old County Square building, county council members are responding.

“This is something that needs to be handled immediately,” said Councilman Steve Shaw, representative of Greenville County District 20.

Shaw and other council members responded after hundreds of documents containing personal information with home addresses, social security numbers, tax records and more, were allegedly dumped behind the old County Square complex.

In an interview Thursday, Greenville County Facilities Manager Walter Atkins said contractors mistakenly moved the files as they prepared to demolish the building.

“The contractor there that was prepping for the abatement, for the demo, mistakenly had taken some of the documents and took them outside,” said Atkins. “I think it’s just a misunderstanding of what was taken out of the facility at the time and we’ve got that straightened out.”

On Friday, Greenville County Administrator Joseph Kernell gave more insight into why the documents were moved.

“On March 14 and March 15, Greenville County’s contractor responsible for asbestos remediation in the old County Square facility inadvertently removed old documents from within the building that were intended to be destroyed and placed these documents outside the building in the loading dock area of the fenced demolition site,” Kernell said.

“Many of the documents removed were old real property records which contain public information,” said Kernell. “The County’s online records continue to be secure and there has been no data breach. Greenville County takes the protection of our data and records very seriously and understands that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our data is vital to our citizens, our businesses and our data security.”

Still, the physical documents containing personal information left out in the open has residents concerned.

“If those documents got in the wrong hands, people could commit identity fraud,” a Greenville County resident said in a previous interview.

7NEWS was there Thursday as crews worked to clean up the loose files and took them away in dumpsters.

A day later, not a paper was in sight behind the building. But still, many people, including some Greenville County Council members, said they have unanswered questions.

“Where are the documents? I mean, where are they now? What were they planning to do? They’re in big dumpsters? I mean, were they just going to take them to the dump? They were not shredded which is what the statutes tell them to do,” asked Shaw.

The following is listed in the South Carolina Code of Laws pertaining to Personal Identifying Information Privacy Protection:

“When a public body disposes of a record that contains personal identifying information of an individual, the body shall modify, by shredding, erasing, or other means, the personal identifying information to make it unreadable or undecipherable.”

Pursuant to §30-2-310(C) of Article 3 of Chapter 2 of Title 30 of the S.C. Code

Greenville County Councilman Stan Tzouvelekas, a representative of District 22, said in a statement that “the blatant disregard and irresponsible disclosure of citizens’ personal information is inexcusable. Someone must be held accountable for not protecting the Citizens of our County! Greenville County must provide the citizens affected by this unauthorized disclosure with the resources needed to mitigate potential damage and possible identity theft.” 

At least two letters were sent from Councilman Shaw to the Greenville County Council Chairman and other members of council, demanding action be taken.

“I asked them to get the Attorney General to help. I asked them to get an outside consultant. What do we do in this case, when this happens?” 

“It’s a very serious breach,” Shaw added. “The damage that could be done is devastating to families and to individuals and we need some immediate action.”

The councilman called for an investigation and is pushing the county to take responsibility for any financial losses potential victims could experience.

You can read his full letter calling for immediate action steps here:

“I’m not going to give up on this,” Shaw said.

Shaw requested a special council meeting be called to address the situation. At the very least, he said it will be discussed at the next council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 2.

It’s still unclear why the documents were left in the building when the abatement process began and not properly disposed of in the first place. Several county council members said they’re prepared to get to the bottom of the issue.

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