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Raleigh man buys cabinet, discovers confidential files inside

Posted July 15, 2010

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— After purchasing a file cabinet for $15 from state surplus, a Raleigh man said he discovered folders containing personal information like social security numbers and addresses.

In the bottom drawer of the cabinet, the man, who asked not to be identified, told WRAL that he found folders labeled North Carolina Board of Nursing. The documents contained names of applicants, photos and in one case, fingerprints.

“It kind of buckles your knees because there is no excuse for that,” Division Director of N.C. Surplus Property Mickey Sauls said Thursday.

Sauls said items go through two checks before being sold to the public, first by the agency giving it up the item, then by surplus workers selling it.

Division Director of N.C. Surplus Property Mickey Sauls Man discovers confidential files inside cabinet

Many of the documents found are dated between 2002 and 2004. Applicants have addresses in Raleigh, Garner, Durham and Wilmington.

Sauls said he understands the severity of the issue and plans to fix it.

“I can tell you, we have found stuff and this one slipped through,” Sauls said. “I am going to find out how it slipped through because it is unacceptable.”

The man who purchased the cabinet said he wants to get the documents back to state officials.

This is not the first time confidential information has been discovered in a state surplus purchased item.

In 2007, a man purchased a file cabinet from state surplus and found graduate student records from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill inside. The records contained social security numbers and other information. The files were returned to the school.

23 Comments

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  • wildcat Jul 16, 2010

    Someone obviously did not do their jobs of removing the files. This is dangerous to the people in the files. Hopefully, the files will now be destroyed.

  • JAT Jul 16, 2010

    Too funny! The kid probably just thought those people need to put some clothes on!

  • shortcake53 Jul 16, 2010

    JAT the PI probably didnt realize he had stuffed the pics near the back. But leave it to a 4 yr old to find them! No, no one was recognized, but we will never forget the looks on the faces of the people in the photos! lol

  • JAT Jul 16, 2010

    The PI hid them? How odd! And don't other people go totally through a car as soon as they buy it? So do tell - where did he hide them? Must have been in the back if a kid found them? Inquiring minds want to know.... And did the people know the people in the photos???? That would be even bigger news - oh, look Mommy, there's my teacher Miss Smith!

  • shortcake53 Jul 16, 2010

    Reminds me of when a relative of mine bought a used car. Turned out it had been owned by a private ivestigator, who had hidden some extremely racey pics of someone having an affair, and had been caught in the act. My relatives 4 yr old found them, a day I'm sure he wont forget!

  • JAT Jul 16, 2010

    You know, I'm thankful I don't work for the state. If I really needed a file cabinet, my boss would be tickled pink that I went and found one for $15. If you need one so badly, go get it, pay for it (surely you manage $15) and get someone to get it or deliver it for you. Too many people in the State wait for someone to do something for them instead of just doing the simple thing. So what if it cost you $15 - if you use it at work, where you spend the majority of your day, and it makes your life easier, then do it.

  • mpheels Jul 16, 2010

    I work for the state, and at least in my department if you need new furniture of any kind the first step is to see if someone else in the department has something they aren't using. The next step is to check with surplus. You can only order new furniture if surplus can't fill your order, and you usually have to wait for months to see if what you need happens to show up at surplus. I needed a 2-drawer lateral filing cabinet last September but had to work out of cardboard boxes until April b/c we were waiting for cabinet to show up at surplus that would fit in my office. The only furniture we are allowed to order new are heavy-duty cabinets for storing confidential information, and only b/c they never show up in surplus and they would have to be re-keyed.

  • Wiser_now Jul 16, 2010

    McLovin: you're kidding right?

  • barnzez Jul 16, 2010

    When file cabinets are sent to surplus, they are usually in fair condition and really, really old. Before we send file cabinets, we ask other offices in our agency if they need a file cabinet. Most of them don't even lock or the key has been long gone. $15 may not have been a cheap price.

  • McLovin Jul 16, 2010

    I bought a file cabinet from Office Depot...do you know why I found in it?? Operating instructions with tons of numbers...there were 3s 4s 8s...I contacted WRAL and they didnt even give it the time of day...and now they are reporting on something like this?? what a bunch of hypocrits...

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