The Case of the Stolen SSNs

Our Mystery Series continues with another crime against trucking. Read on to discover some of the biggest culprits in holding back your business and how to stop them cold.

Jeanine’s stomach dropped when she walked into her office on Thursday morning and saw the drawer to her file cabinet slightly cracked. She knew she hadn’t been in that cabinet for several days because she’d spent the start of the week at a safety conference. Nobody else was supposed to touch the drawer containing driver files without her permission. That one-inch gap spelled total disaster.

Jeanine opened the drawer to investigate the situation. It appeared that all the driver files were still there, but it was obvious that they’d been rifled through; paperwork was out of order and the folders had been hastily stuffed back in the drawer. Whoever had been prowling through the files likely hadn’t had much time to do their thieving.

“Ron?” Jeanine called down the hallway, and her office administrator appeared moments later,  his “World’s Okayest Employee” mug that was always filled with Dr. Pepper sending droplets of soda raining down onto the carpet.

“How was the conference, boss?” Ron asked, setting his sticky mug down next to a stack of fresh driver applications.

“Fine, fine, lots of new developments to think about for the business,” Jeanine said, moving the applications to the other side of the desk where they’d be safe from Ron. “Listen, did you get into the file cabinet while I was out of town?”

“I sure didn’t. Haven’t needed into that drawer since we hired a new guy, which was a couple months back.” 

“Well, it looks like someone went through the driver files while I was away, and that’s a big problem. That paperwork has drivers’ personal information on it – addresses, contact info, social security numbers. You can do some damage with that kind of stuff assuming the perpetrator copied the information down.”

Ron’s face twisted with concern and he reached for his mug, jostling it and sending a trickle of soda onto the desk where the applications had been sitting earlier. “This is real bad. What are we gonna do?”

“Let’s think. First of all, can you recall anyone being in my office while I was away?  Anyone who had access to the files?”

Ron stroked his whisper of a beard thoughtfully. After a few seconds his eyes widened and he said, “There was construction in the office earlier this week. They were installing new fire sprinklers in the conference room where drivers normally sit to fill out applications. So we had everyone who applied for a job this week sit in…your office.”

Jeanine nodding, understanding dawning. “How many drivers filled out applications?”

Ron hesitated before answering, “Three. I left their applications on your desk.” Ron pointed to the stack of papers Jeanine had recently rescued from the admin’s soda habit.

Jeanine sat down at her desk and picked up the stack of papers. “Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to call our employees and let them know there may have been a data breach that we’re investigating now. Tell them they should keep an eye on their financials in case anyone tries to use their SSNs for anything.”

Ron grabbed his mug and paused in the doorway on his way back to his desk. “How are we gonna catch the guy who did it?”

“I’m going to call these three drivers who applied to work for us and bring them in for an interview. Hopefully I can figure out which of them tried to steal our data.”

Suspect One

After glancing over their applications, Jeanine placed calls to all three drivers letting them know she wanted to interview them as soon as possible. Each man agreed to come into the office later that day.

The first to arrive was Jack, who was ushered into Jeanine’s office by a nervous Ron. Jack was neatly dressed and made a show of silencing his iPhone before taking the seat across from Jeanine. “It was a real pleasure to get your call so fast. Seems like you have a great company here.”

“We try,” Jeanine said, picking up Jack’s application. “So it looks like your last driving job was…seven months ago?”

“That’s right. And I did three months of construction work after that. Wanted to get off the road for awhile and be closer to my mother after she had hip surgery. Now she’s on the mend and I’m looking for driving work again.”

“Very good. Your work record seems consistent and you say you’re up to speed on using an ELD?”

“Absolutely. I helped train other drivers on them in my last job. I’m good with technology, just like I am with trucks.”

Jeanine ran through several more questions with Jack and received satisfactory answers to all of them. She found her shoulders relaxing at the relief of interviewing a competent candidate. They hadn’t had someone as qualified as Jack in awhile. It would be a silver lining of this whole experience if they ended up hiring someone in the course of their investigations.

Jack shook her hand firmly on the way out and once he’d left the office, Ron slid into the room. “How was he?”

“Excellent. I’ll probably make him an offer once we get this mess sorted out. But it gets us no closer to our data thief.”

Suspect Two

It was another hour before the next driver, Marty, sidled through the door. He was young and lanky, dressed in an oversize t-shirt and ripped jeans. He fell into the chair in a slump and crossed his arms as Jeanine started asking him questions about his trucking school and the one driving job he’d held before applying to their company.

“So why are you looking to change jobs?” Jeanine asked.

“Ah, man, my dispatcher sucks. Plus they won’t give me the raise I want.”

“Do you and your dispatcher have a lot of conflicts?”

“Yeah, he treats me like a kid. Just because I’m new to this doesn’t mean I can’t tell when he’s trying to put me on a crappy route.” Marty scowled and stared out the window. Jeanine had worked with drivers like him before. Any problem, whether it was a delivery being late or a truck getting damaged, was always someone else’s fault.

“Is that why you asked your current company for a raise? Because of difficulty with your dispatcher?”

“Partly. Plus I drive the longest and most dangerous routes. I know they owe me more than what I’m getting. I’m risking my life out there!”

He had a point. Jeanine wondered how badly he wanted the extra money. “If you felt like you weren’t getting compensated what you deserved, what would you do about it?”

Marty shrugged one shoulder. “Quit. Find somewhere better. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Jeanine asked him a few more questions but didn’t dig up anything interesting. She let Ron usher him out, shaking her head at him when Marty wasn’t looking. Marty had a lot to learn about the world of driving, but he didn’t seem like their culprit.

Suspect Three

“We’re running out of options,” Ron said as he and Jeanine waited for their last appointment of the day. Ron had been nervously gnawing on a pencil that was now embossed with toothmarks.

“Let’s not panic. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

From the other end of the office came the sound of the front door opening. Ron jumped up and said, “I’ll bring him back to you.” Jeanine listened to the low sounds of the two men talking, and a few moments later Ted appeared. He wore a dirty cap that cast most of his face into shadow.

“I’m glad you could meet with us so quickly, Ted,” Jeanine said, gathering his paperwork and skimming it. “We’re always in need of drivers.”

Ted nodded but didn’t speak. Jeanine filled the awkward silence by glancing down at his application again. She’d noted some red flags and decided to dig right into the meat of her concerns.

“So it looks like you were let go from a couple of your previous companies because of conflicts. Can you tell me more about that?”

“People are sensitive. Some of them don’t like my way of doing things. It happens.”

Jeanine waited to see if he had anything more to say, but Ted remained silent. She pressed on and said, “When we were doing your employment verifications, we heard back that you had a habit of falsifying your driving records when you were using paper logs. Who’s to say you can be trusted now?”

Ted leaned forward and tipped up his hat so that Jeanine could see the angry glint in his eyes. “I did my best. I got my loads to where they were supposed to go. It’s not my fault that this is an unpredictable business and we’ve got to follow these rules. And what the hell can I do now anyway? I don’t even know how to work an ELD.”

Jeanine thought about this a moment and something clicked into place. “I appreciate you letting me know, Ted. I’ll keep this in mind and we’ll give you a call back if we need anything else.”

“Sure thing.” Ted stood, lowered his cap again, and stalked out of the office.

Once Jeanine had heard the building’s front door swing shut, Ron appeared in the doorway. “You let him leave! I thought he was our guy.”

“I was wrong. I think I know what happened.”

The Culprit Cornered

“Thanks so much for stopping back by. We just wanted to get a little more information from you so we can move forward as quickly as possible.”

“Of course,” Jack said, crossing his hands on the desktop and leaning forward. “I’m so glad we were impressed with each other.” Jack chuckled and Ron, who was standing by the filing cabinet, laughed along nervously.

Jeanine shot him a silencing look and said, “We were especially intrigued by your technological abilities. You must have been quite an asset at your old company, being so knowledgeable about ELDs.”

“I like to think so.”

Jeanine leaned in. “You strike me as someone who knows what to do with information. For example, if you were to have acquired a bunch of Social Security Numbers, you seem like you’d be able to put them to use.”

Jack sat up stiffly and clenched his hands tighter. “Excuse me?”

“I’m saying–and this is purely theoretical–that if you were to be given access to a bunch of personal driver information and had a few minutes to take pictures of that paperwork on your smartphone, that you’d know how to use it.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed as he said, “That’s quite an accusation to make.”

“I wonder if the police would say that after checking your phone for photos of our company’s paperwork.”

Jack stood up and jabbed a finger in Jeanine’s direction. “Fine. You’ve got me. But I didn’t use that information. I was hoping I would get a job here so that I wouldn’t have to, but I’ve been out of work for months and taking care of my mother costs money. And you know what? Stealing that data was easy. Who keeps their files on paper anymore?”


The next few months were rough for Jeanine. Even though she had discovered Jack’s duplicity in time and none of the stolen personal information was used, a couple of their drivers quit because of the data breach.

Jeanine turned her focus toward making their business more secure and the company moved all of its paperwork online. Jeanine was most surprised at how much more efficient the business became once paperwork could be sent out electronically. She even bought Ron a “World’s Best Employee” mug after he’d successfully implemented an online application system.

In a way, their bad experience with Jack had been a blessing in disguise. They ran better now than ever and would never neglect security again.

Is your company’s data secure from SSN thieves? Contact us at 877-219-9283 or sales@tenstreet.com to set up a demo of our safety services and learn more about how to keep your information safe and compliant.

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