Joe Reisman, real life superhero.
Local Sanitation workers, the head of Community Board 15 and Sheepshead Bites’ own tax columnist, Joseph Reisman, all went above and beyond the call of duty on Friday, mobilizing to secure hundreds of documents containing names, addresses, Social Security numbers, bank account information and other information coveted by identity thieves that were accidentally strewn across a busy Sheepshead Bay intersection.
The incident was sparked by a tip sent to us by Sheepshead Bites reader Penny, who informed us at approximatly 6:00 p.m. on Friday that hundreds of papers were blowing in the wind on Avenue Z, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street. Upon closer inspection, Penny wrote, the papers were tax records from a local accountant, and contained some of the most sensitive private information about clients – the kind of info that makes ID thieves drool.
We checked it out, and, indeed, it appeared hundreds, if not thousands, of individual’s identities were at risk.
First, we called the accountant listed on the papers, and even knocked on his office door. But no one was in.
Then we called our own tax guru, Reisman, to see if there was a city or state agency able to respond and quickly clean up the mess and possibly notify the accountant and his clients. Reisman wasn’t aware of any, and advised us to call the city.
We then called 311, but the uniqueness of the complaint baffled operators. After being transferred around a couple of times, an operator said all they could do was file a complaint, and, in time, the Sanitation Department would dispatch someone to check out the location and issue the accountant a fine for littering. However, it wasn’t clear if they could get someone to the location within 24 hours.
That wasn’t good enough. With so much personal information so easily accessible to passers-by, we knew every second it remained on the street, people’s credit and identities remained at risk.
Keep reading to find out what happened next.