Mailing Error Leads to Breach

Californians get envelopes showing Social Security number Envelopes mailed Feb. 1 to nearly 50,000 Californians included their Social Security numbers on the mailing labels, according to the California Department of Health Care Services.

On Feb. 6, the state agency began sending notification letters to the adult day health care services beneficiaries notifying them of the error.

The agency "advised beneficiaries about how to protect themselves from identity theft, including contacting the three credit reporting agencies and placing a fraud alert on their files," according to a press release.

"At this point there is no evidence that unauthorized parties have acquired or accessed beneficiary personal information."

Mailing list mistake

The error occurred when the mailing list was prepared and formatted, mistakenly including the Social Security numbers, the agency reported.

"We have implemented additional safeguards governing the release of Social Security numbers, and our mailing vendor has implemented additional quality control measures to prevent such errors from occurring in the future," said David Maxwell-Jolly, agency director.

"We will redouble our efforts to ensure that all beneficiary information entrusted to the state is aggressively and appropriately protected."

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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