Trove of passport and credit card data dumped in Vancouver recycling bin

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The owner of a Vancouver travel company is promising to do better after hundreds of pieces of his clients’ personal information were found abandoned in a recycling bin.

Thousands of pages of sensitive personal information — credit card numbers, cheques, photocopies of children’s passports, signatures and home addresses — were left out in the open in the basement recycling bin of a downtown Vancouver high-rise.

Former Global BC staffer Peter Meiszner found the documents, seemingly undisturbed, in his building’s recycling bin and contacted authorities.

The documents came from Affinity Tour Groups, a neighbouring travel agency for school groups.

Owner Shawn Gallacher says the breach was caused by a mistake by his 16-year-old son who is helping out at the office for the summer.

“All of the recycling was misplaced and basically the wrong bins ended up in the wrong locations,” he said. “My son was helping me yesterday and he unintentionally threw the wrong bins into the recycling.”

Gallacher said the company plans to contact all the schools and kids involved.

“It’s an honest mistake in a small business and we feel terrible about it,” he said.

Consumer protection groups want clear procedures for rectifying a breach like this one.

B.C.’s privacy commissioner is looking into the breach.