'Confidential information' in shredded Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade confetti

Filed Under: Featured, Privacy

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, courtesy of ShutterstockThe world's most famous Thanksgiving parade is probably not where you'd expect to find shredded confidential police documents.

But that's exactly what Ethan Finkelstein says he found while enjoying the annual parade in New York City last Thursday, according to an American news station.

Finkelstein told PIX11 he was watching the parade from 65th Street and Central Park West when he noticed some of the confetti stuck to his friend's coat. As they picked it off they noticed it had the letters 'SSN' and a number next to it.

So they gathered some more confetti that had fallen around them. They found other confidential information, such as arrest records and police officers' details, including social security numbers and dates of birth. Some of the documents identified detectives - including undercover officers - by name.

Finkelstein explained:

"There are phone numbers, addresses, more social security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police."

There was even information relating to Mitt Romney's motorcade, apparently from the final presidential debate in Nassau County last month.

Tickertape Parade, courtesy of ShutterstockPIX11 spoke to Inspector Kenneth Lack, Commanding Officer, Public Info, who gave this statement:

"The Nassau County Police Department is very concerned about this situation. We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposure of sensitive documents."

Macy's denied that the confetti came from them, saying they only used punched coloured confetti, and never shredded paper.

So while we applaud Nassau County Police Department for shredding the confidential papers, how it ended up as confetti remains to be seen.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade image courtesy of Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Tickertape parade image courtesy of Shutterstock

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3 Responses to 'Confidential information' in shredded Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade confetti

  1. Doesn't this just show that the documents weren't shredded properly? If you have to take additional precautions on how to dispose of shredded documents doesn't that make shredding them pointless?

    • CDB · 1046 days ago

      What I find somewhat disconcerting is the fact that, for about $30.00 USD, you can buy a very nice diamond cross-cut shredder from Office Depot or Wal-Mart...but most large-volume or commercial shredders (ranging into the hundreds or thousands of dollars) are the plain-Jane strip shredders.

      There are times when I would like to have a 55-gallon metal drum at my office to incinerate the documents myself, rather than shredding them and letting someone else (albeit a trusted someone) take them away to be disposed of.

  2. Jay Vincenzo · 1045 days ago

    Even here in Australia, in a provincial town, I have seen small paper collectors with words to the effect "CONFIDENTIAL PAPER SHREDDERS" all going to some commercial shredder down in an industrial estate.

    Being somewhat curious - and nosey - I just happened to be in the same street where they were being "destroyed" - and guess what - just being stuffed into larger bags to be sent to a capitol city to be "RECYCLED" ..... one wonders where the actual shredding eventually took place - if it did?

    One further wonders if, by chance, anyone bent on gaining confidential information of any kind would go to the length to get hold of those papers?

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About the author

Anna Brading is Naked Security's editor. She has worked in tech for more than ten years and as a writer with Sophos for over five. She's interested in social media, privacy and keeping people safe online.