$60 for Appliances, Furniture, Social Security Numbers

By Omar Villafranca
|  Monday, Sep 27, 2010  |  Updated 10:08 PM CDT
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A <a title=Tarrant County man is trying to figure out how to safely get rid of personal information he unknowingly purchased when he won a storage unit at auction." />

Omar Villafranca, NBCDFW.com

A Tarrant County man is trying to figure out how to safely get rid of personal information he unknowingly purchased when he won a storage unit at auction.

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A Tarrant County man won two refrigerators, some tables and, unexpectedly, personal information on hundreds of strangers at an storage unit auction.

Kelly Farris paid $60 for the contents of a storage unit that was delinquent on payments. He planned on selling the furniture and appliances, but didn't expect everything else.

"I saw two refrigerators right in front," he said. "And for 60 bucks, I thought, 'Why not?'"

But the storage unit also had boxes of sensitive information, including copies of drivers licenses and Social Security cards, credit union reports and financial reports.

The letters were addressed to a closed-down nursing facility.

The documents also contained medical information, such as what prescription people were taking, urology reports, psychiatric evaluations, seizure reports and even job applications from potential workers. Social Security numbers were easily visible on the paperwork.

Much of the information belonged to mentally disabled children. A few files included pictures of the children. The information was from 1998 to 2008.

A woman who answered the door at the address listed on much of the paperwork said the business belonged to her sister, who was out of town for a funeral. When asked if the company closed for financial reasons, the woman said her sister got out of it to try something else.

A message left for the owners was not returned.

Farris said he doesn't want to throw the papers in a dumpster for fear it could fall into the wrong hands. He said he is looking for a shredding company.

He also said the storage unit renters should be punished for being careless with the information.

"I think someone should have to answer for every piece of information in here that someone like me was able to purchase for 60 bucks," Farris said. "If one person was damaged by this, that's too much."

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