Watchdog Worries H&R Block Booths in Wal-Mart Could Abet ID Theft

<b></b>

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

-When Pittsburgh attorney Robert Chastain walked out of the restroom at the Superstore in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, a few weeks ago, he couldn't believe his eyes. He was staring at a computer screen inside a temporary H&R Block tax booth.

A customer's address, Social Security number, date of birth and other were in plain view of passersby. Sensitive about security and issues because of his work as general counsel and partner at technology services company Ceeva Inc., Chastain said he wanted to find out if IDs were up for grabs at other H&R Block booths. So he had a few student interns visit a half-dozen other Wal-Marts in the region.

Not all the tax booths had customers at the time. And several of the Wal-Marts were leasing space to another large tax preparer, , which was using extensive privacy partitions, making it difficult to snoop without being noticed. But the same privacy breach popped up at an H&R Block booth in Greensburg. At H&R Block, the nation's largest tax preparer, spokeswoman Denise Sposato said she found it "hard to believe" that Chastain or anyone else was able to spy on personal information. In developing the prototype for the Wal-Mart kiosks, which were installed for the first time this tax season, H&R Block's compliance officer "extensively" evaluated privacy issues, Sposato said.

For its part, Wal-Mart, the nation's biggest retailer, left any action up to H&R Block.

Meanwhile, Chastain has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, contacted consumer groups and is trying to warn anyone who will listen. , the fastest growing white-collar crime in America, claimed 10 million victims in 2002, according to the FTC. -Pittsburgh Post Gazette

More from Entrepreneur

We created the SYOB course to help you get started on your entrepreneurial journey. You can now sign up for just $99, plus receive a 7-day free trial. Just use promo code SYOB99 to claim your offer.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Entrepreneur Store scours the web for the newest software, gadgets & web services. Explore our giveaways, bundles, "Pay What You Want" deals & more.

Latest on Entrepreneur