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Maine Self Storage Operators Battle Issues of Abandoned Records, Confidentiality

A public hearing took place in the Maine Legislature today that could have serious impact on self-storage businesses in the state. The session addressed SP 130, LD 366, “An Act to Protect Confidential Consumer Records in Self-Service Storage Facilities,” which, if passed, would require extensive administrative procedures on the part of self-storage operators.
The issue of abandoned records weighs heavily with self-storage operators and other commercial landlords as the number of failed businesses and delinquencies rises in tandem with economic anguish throughout the country. The proposed legislation in Maine emerged when a self-storage operator insisted on auctioning files containing private information from a defunct mortgage company, frustrating state officials.
Mini Self Storage in Scarborough, Maine, attempted to auction off the contents of a unit rented by a mortgage company that went out of business last summer. The unit contained 60 boxes of financial records, including loan applications with Social Security and bank-account numbers. The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection ultimately obtained a court order to confiscate the records. Other self-storage facilities have appealed to the bureau for advice in handling similar situations.
To protest the proposed bill, the Maine Self Storage Association and national Self Storage Association delivered letters to the bill’s sponsors offering alternate solutions that put the onus on the offending parties, not the self-storage operators themselves.
Under existing Maine law, items in a storage unit may be sold by the facility operator if a renter is more than 45 days late on payment. The operator is not required to inventory the unit or notify regulators when records are present, even if those records contain personal, medical or financial information. As greater numbers of mortgage companies go out of business, the risks associated with abandoned records increases.
Status and notes relating to the bill can be viewed here:
Source: Portland Press Herald, Your records for sale to the highest bidder
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