Sevierville, Sevier County (WVLT) - You shred your personal papers and do as much as you can at home to protect your identity, but once you give your information out, you can only hope the person you give it to is careful.
A Sevier County business owner says she's lucky she was the one that found papers with personal information in a dumpster in Sevierville.
She called us, someone else could have stolen several people's identities.
One of the papers that video store owner Kim Pierce found in the dumpster had personal information belonging to Sevier Heights Baptist Church Pastor Charles Mcnutt.
After telling him personal information such as his birth date, social security number, even how much money his wife made, he was anxious to know how we knew that.
Kim Pierce runs a video store in Sevierville and was shocked at what she found when she took out the trash on Sunday. "I grabbed the file and started looking and found there was actually three different people's identity in the stuff that was lying right there on top."
The file contained applications and confidential credit reports from Countrywide Home Loans located in the same strip mall.
"It definitely should be shredded. My main concern is hopefully this is just an isolated incident," Pierce says.
One of the names took us to Pastor Charles McNutt at Sevier Heights Baptist Church who was surprised we could tell him his social security number, credit score, even his wife's salary.
"It scares me absolutely to death. I'm absolutely shocked and I'm dying to know where you got that information," says Pastor McNutt.
McNutt confirms he was recently shopping for home mortgage rates.
"Have you shopped anywhere around any other places?" McLamb asks the pastor.
"Yes," he says.
"Where?" McLamb asks.
"Countrywide Mortgage," is the pastor's reply.
McNutt finds the whole situation shocking.
"I've been betrayed by someone who I actually put my trust in," McNutt says.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Knoxville Police say not much until it's too late.
Knoxville fraud investigator Richard Giammarino says people can remove their names from pre-approved credit card letters by calling Op-Out at 888-567-8688, but if you suspect anything you should contact local police and put an alert on your credit by calling 800-525-6285.
"What do you think would have happened if it got in the wrong hands?" McLamb asks McNutt.
"Oh, I would probably be less a lot of money. I could be bankrupt," McNutt admits.
We have received a statement from countrywide.
They say they have a strict policy that requires all customer information be shredded before it is disposed.
Countrywide says they've begun taking the appropriate steps to ensure compliance in the future.