AZLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Tina Albright is one of hundreds who have had their taxes prepared by Taxes Etc., a tax service business in Azle. But recent events have Albright concerned.
“It makes you nervous,” she said, “people getting your information.”
The company previously rented space in a building in the 1300 block of Northwest Parkway in Azle, but last August the owner, Mary Calhoun, was evicted.
According to landlord documents, Calhoun hadn’t paid rent in six months.
Calhoun all but disappeared, abandoning thousands of papers containing sensitive information such as birthdates, social security numbers and bank information.
“It’s not very professional,” said Albright. “She’s responsible for our personal information. She was supposed to be responsible for it so to up and leave it and (not) care, we trusted in her.”
Gary Menzies, the building’s owner, said Calhoun never came back for the documents, leaving him no choice but to move the sensitive information out in order to make room for a new tenant.
Jennifer Stephens is an ex-employee of the tax business and was concerned the documents could get in the wrong hands or end up in the trash.
“I expressed the documents were important and everything people needed to commit identity theft,” said Stephens.
Now the building management is sending letters to former clients informing them they can pick up the documents with their personal information for a fee of $35 dollars.
Grover Gibson is a Certified Public Accountant and works for Menzies. He’s helping oversee the personal documents. He says the fee is to cover storage costs.
“To cover the costs of organizing and storing the records,” said Gibson. “We have safe guarded their records info to protect social security numbers.”
Still, clients like Greg Lockard aren’t at ease.
“I don’t know who’s been in those storages. I don’t know who’s compromised my documents or sold on market,” said Lockhard.
Some customers said they understand this situation was dumped on the building owner and that they don’t mind paying a fee. But others say the fees shouldn’t be on the customer but on Mary Calhoun who abandoned the documents and failed to pay rent.
“I’d like my information back,” said Albright. “But I shouldn’t have to pay.”
CBS11 legal expert Jerry Loftin says customers can contact the police and may want to contact the credit reporting agencies as a precaution.
As for Calhoun, her website says she is still in business and moved to a new address. When CBS 11 visited the location, she was not there.