Personal information of hundreds of former Sears employees, including their Social Security numbers, was found in file cabinets a South Side Chicago man bought at a liquidation sale last weekend.
Hersey Mallory said his surprise turned to frustration when he tried to alert the retailer of the problem and couldn't get anyone to care enough to take the files back.
At $23 apiece, Mallory said he thought the file cabinets he bought Saturday were a good deal. But almost immediately he noticed how heavy the cabinets were. He understood why when he opened a drawer.
Inside were documents with personal information for former Sears employees. The files ranged from photos to records with marital status information, as well as birth certificates, termination papers and forms detailing accusations of theft.
Mallory said those employees have a right to privacy.
"The company should have had a little bit more due diligence in order to protect these people," he said.
Mallory said he'd tried calling Sears eight or nine times this week to alert them of the security problem.
"Take them off my hands and put them in the proper place before someone who's unscrupulous gets them," he said.
But instead of getting the attention he expected, Mallory said got the run-around from company representatives. He said one of his calls found him transferred to a representative in India. In another attempt, a representative gave him some creative advice: leave the files on a loading dock at the Sears store on State Street in Chicago.
Frustrated, Mallory contacted NBC Chicago. After an inquiry, Sears' Director of Corporate Communications, Howard Riefs, promised to look into it.
"We greatly appreciate the customer bringing the issue to our attention," Riefs said in a statement. "Ensuring the integrity of our associates' personal information is of the utmost importance."
By Wednesday afternoon, Mallory said he'd been contacted by a Sears representative and an appointment was made to have the files collected.
Mallory said he was offered a $100 gift certificate as a thank you for his integrity. He said he doesn't want anything at all and said the entire matter was just one of character and doing the right thing.