[silk] If you're from the bay area and applied for a visa at the SFO Indian consulate ..

Suresh Ramasubramanian suresh at hserus.net
Sat Feb 3 19:18:59 PST 2007

then you have my sympathies. look out for ID theft

Indian Consulate dumped visa applications in recycle plant

Indo-Asian News Service

New York, February 2, 2007

Visa applications and other sensitive documents of top executives and
political figures were found lying in an open yard at a San Francisco
recycling centre after they were dumped there by the city's Indian
consulate, according to media reports.

Security experts said that the documents were a potential treasure trove
for identity thieves or terrorists.

Among the papers found lying were visa applications submitted by Byron
Pollitt, chief financial officer of San Francisco's Gap Inc., and Anne
Gust, wife of California Attorney General Jerry Brown, according to the
San Francisco Chronicle.

Also visa applications of top executives of AT&T Wireless Inc, Oracle
Corp, Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp, Qualcomm Inc and Williams-Sonoma Inc
were also found lying.

Information on the documents includes applicants' names, addresses,
phone numbers, birth dates, professions, employers, passport numbers
photos and also accompanying letters detail people's travel plans and
reasons for visiting India.

"This is absolutely sensitive information," said Charles Cresson Wood, a
information-security consultant. "It needs to be safeguarded," he added.

However, BS Prakash, the Indian consul general, was quoted as saying:
"As we see it, the documents are not confidential. We would see
something as confidential if it has a social security number or a credit
card number, not a passport number."

But security experts said it wouldn't be hard to obtain someone's social
security number using the information available in the consular documents.

"We have a shortage of space. We keep this material for a year, and then
we have to destroy it," Pratik Sircar, deputy consul general for the
Indian consulate, said.

However, the consulate didn't destroy the documents. Instead, it hired a
hauling company in December to cart the boxes to the recycling centre.

"We thought it was their job to shred the material as soon as they got
it," Sircar said.

Indian officials have since removed the boxes containing the documents.

Sircar said the consulate would find some other way to deal with its
excess paperwork in the future.

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