Mismailed disability claims include sensitive information

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Mismailed disability claims include sensitive information

By Kean Bauman. CREATED Mar 25, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Last week, Contact 13 exposed a security breach involving Nevada's disability claims.

Now, the state is speaking out about its own investigation and how much critical, personal information was mailed out to strangers.

Cari was shocked and more than a little freaked out about what she found in her mailbox, "It had another claimant's name. Their social security number and their date of birth."

It was from the State Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

The envelope should have had her disability claim information, but instead, it contained sensitive personal details for two other people.

As for her own? She got a call from a stranger who found it in his mailbox.

"And said the same thing happened to him. Only he received my information," Cari explained.

Cari said he had her name, birth date, social security and disability claim information, along with what doctor she was supposed to go to.

"What isn't scary about that?" she stated.

The concern is that once your personal information is out there, you could have a domino effect that leads to identity theft.

That's why Cari asked Contact 13 not to use her last name. After she and others reported the mismailed claims, DETR investigated.

"It was terrible news for us," said Frank Woodbeck, director of DETR. "When I heard about it, I mean, my heart sank because you don't know how large the problem is."

Originally, the state said four people reported receiving other clients' information, but that quickly changed.

"It affected between 17 and 20 individuals as far as we can tell," said Woodbeck.

Woodbeck said it was a data transmission error by a third party vendor that does the mail for the Social Security Administration, "In this day and age there's so much computerization that when there is a glitch, even a minor one, it does have some kind of effect."

Woodbeck said DETR handles claims for 4,000 to 5,000 clients every year. Though this type of error is rare, they take any problem with personal information seriously.

"If it affects one person, or affects 20 people, or affects 1,000 people, it's still a big problem for us."

For now, the state said it has contained the problem, notified everyone affected and extended claim deadlines on time-sensitive responses.

"So no one's going to lose out because their mail went to the wrong person?" asked Darcy Spears.

Woodbeck replied, "No. No."

Though they can't know for sure, they don't think identity theft will be an issue.

"In this world of data storage and data transfer, I'm afraid these types of things do happen. I don't want to minimize them, but they do happen and we certainly make sure they don't happen again. And hopefully they never will."

If you received someone else's disability claim information please call DETR at (775) 885-3738.