Social Security Numbers Found In Parade Confetti

While watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, a college student noticed that the confetti dropping on him and his friends had easy-to-see personal information. Most if it was from the Nassau Long Island Police Department and included Social Security numbers, names of police, and even information about Mitt Romney's motorcade. The Nassau Police Department says it's investigating.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We turn now to Confetti-gate. A student watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City found confetti dropping on him and his friends. That's to be expected. But then he took a closer look and saw on those strips of shredded paper Social Security numbers, names of police officers, license plates, even the route of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's motorcade.

NPR's Margot Adler has the rest of the story.

CROWD: Three, two, one...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let's start the parade.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: The Macy's parade, with its huge character balloons and floats, attracts millions in the streets and on TV. Confetti rains down from everywhere. Macy's says their confetti is commercially manufactured and not shredded documents. But standing on 65th Street in Central Park West, a Tufts University student found confetti on a friend's coat, horizontally shredded so you could read the text.

The student, freshman Ethan Finkelstein, said you could see what was printed very clearly.

ETHAN FINKELSTEIN: There were full lines of text. You didn't need to piece everything together, it was just right there.

ADLER: The first piece of confetti fell on a friend's coat.

FINKELSTEIN: It fell face-up and it said: SSN and then there was a number on it, and it was written like a Social Security number.

ADLER: At first, Finkelstein thought it was a random thing. But then he picked up the confetti at his feet.

FINKELSTEIN: License plate numbers and names of detectives and phone numbers, and mentions of police - like incidents reports and things like that.

ADLER: He went to a local television news station, which began investigating and found that it led to the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island. Inspector Kenneth Lack said Monday that the department would be conducting an investigation and reviewing its procedures for disposing documents.

The local news station, WPIX, now says, yes, an employee of the police department was standing on the street throwing confetti made partly from shredded police documents. Reached today, the police department said the investigation was continuing but there would be no immediate statements.

But one news report says police officers whose names were revealed will have identity protection, and the department is looking into obtaining cross shredders. Finkelstein says his grandparents shred everything, even personal mail. Finkelstein says that may be going too far.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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