An investigative team with Connecticut’s NBC affiliate came across rather disturbing news last week when taking a tour of the basement of Hartford’s City Hall. The reporters came across billing documents with individual’s names and personal information, including bank accounts and even copies of driver’s licenses.

Originally, the team had been there due to reports of disrepair in the building’s underbelly. While a leaky ceiling was found, the personal documents were of much greater concern.

City Councilman Larry Deutsch, who was leading the reporters, said the situation shouldn’t happen and that the documents should be locked up and properly preserved.

However, the article describes that NBC found room after room filled with unsecured city records. Some documents were as recent as 2007, including personal checks made out to the city with the account numbers still printed clearly.

“We all know most of this should be secured in a reasonable way, and if it’s very old then discarded and destroyed,” Deutsch told NBC. “If it’s recent, then saved with some security and some protection.  That’s the expectation nowadays.”

Mayor Pedro Segarra said that the problem has been building up for several administrations, but that it’s something he plans to fix within the next couple of weeks.

Keeping customers’ personal information protected is critical for any business or organization. It proves that a company is trustworthy and that consumers can feel comfortable enough to keep coming back. By investing in a heavy duty paper shredder, businesses can assure customers that any old or unnecessary information will be disposed of in a safe and secure manner.

In addition, companies like accounting firms – that handle private information such as bank accounts and annual income – should use tax return folders for accountants. These products will keep current paperwork well-organized, and not just strewn about an employee’s desk. Customers will be more likely to stay with a business when they fell their information is safe.