Disposal of Your Personal Records by a Business

Rows of file foldersYour personal information is important in every aspect of your life.  It is essential that you be very careful about with whom you share it, so that it does not fall into the wrong hands.  When you do give your private identifying information to someone, you expect him or her to guard it just as you would. 

Georgia law (O.C.G.A. Section 10-15-1) regulates the proper disposal of business records that contain your personal information.  The law does not specify any particular method of disposal for items that contain only your name, address and telephone number and no other information.  However, a business should properly dispose of any documents that contain your fingerprints, photograph, Social Security number, passport number, driver’s license number, personal identification card number, date of birth, or medical or disability information.  Some examples of covered documents are:

  • Information about your medical condition that is not considered public knowledge.
  • Data containing your account number, account balance, credit balance or credit limit.
  • Information from your federal, state or local tax returns.
  • Information from your application for a loan or credit card.

In order to dispose of this material legally, a business needs to do one of the following:

  • Shred your record before throwing it away;
  • Erase the personal information contained in your record before discarding it; or
  • Modify your record so that the personal information is unreadable.

The business must take every reasonable action to ensure that no unauthorized person will have access to your personal information.  If you believe that a business has not properly disposed of its records, you may inform the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection