Attention, Macy's Shoppers: A Homeless Man May Have Your Personal Information

A St. Louis homeless man, trying to stay warm, stumbled on the personal records of Macy's (M) shoppers as he was building himself a bed with trash he found in a downtown store's Dumpster. And it's not the first time that's happened at that particular store: In October, a reporter from Missouri Lawyers Weekly found Macy's papers blowing in the wind, according to KTVI-TV.Macy's reportedly put lids on the Dumpsters after the October incident. But this time, a homeless man found the papers while trying to build himself a temporary bed. "I'm just so surprised it happened twice," Lawyers Weekly reporter Heather Cole told KTVI.

A Macy's representative said company policy is to shred all paperwork with confidential information, and that the papers found in the covered Dumpster were about to be shredded.

20-Year-Old Files

The majority of the paperwork was 15- to 20-year-old files from the now-defunct Famous-Barr department stores, a brand that was merged into Macy's in 2005, after Macy's Inc., then Federated Department Stores, acquired May Co., which had been Famous-Barr's parent. Most of the papers were advertising tearsheets and ad copy from the marketing department, the representative said, but a few slips of paper bore the information of individuals who had won marketing contests.

The cleanup process is now complete, and remaining Dumpsters will be locked, said the representative, who added, "This was unfortunate, but an aberration."

This breach is hardly on the level of the recently disclosed identity theft case involving Target Corp. (TGT), 7-Eleven, and five other major retailers, involving 130 million credit and debit cards. But it does remind consumers that filling out a contest form or joining a loyalty program means exchanging a piece of their identity to get the goodies promised.

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