In a breach involving Social Security numbers, the state Department of Labor said Friday that a printing error caused nearly 27,000 people to receive someone else's information on unemployment compensation forms.
Since unemployment compensation is taxable, the labor department is required to inform individuals annually about the amount they had received on a tax form.
On 27,000 of the 250,000 forms — known as UC-1099G — that have been mailed out to people who applied for unemployment benefits, information on the top portion of the form is correct. But in a case of double-printing, the bottom half includes the name, address, and Social Security number of another person.
"We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause people who are in the process of filing their tax returns, and we want to make sure individuals are aware of a possible error,'' state labor commissioner Sharon Palmer said Friday. "Individuals receiving a 1099-G for unemployment compensation benefits are asked to check their forms for accuracy.''
Those who have been affected will be offered free credit protection, according to the labor department.
Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield said he was outraged that Social Security numbers had been exposed again, not long after problems with debit cards containing state tax refunds that were the subject of a computer breach at JP Morgan Chase.
"This is very disturbing news,'' McKinney said in an interview. "It seems suspicious that the Department of Labor is releasing news about this significant mistake late on a Friday afternoon. What are they trying to cover up? It's time for the governor to hold the people who made this mistake accountable.''
McKinney said there are many unanswered questions, including why the incorrect forms were placed into envelopes without being checked.
"I think it's incumbent on the Department of Labor to come forward and be transparent and tell the governor and the legislature all of the facts as to how this happened, and whoever is responsible should be held accountable,'' McKinney said. "There is a disturbing pattern in this administration. An individual who is not credit-worthy, who has been foreclosed on and is in debt for $700,000 is able to get a loan from DECD. … Now, these letters go out and obviously no one checked on whether they were done properly.''
McKinney added, "Who is minding the store over there? The governor's outrage over the failures at Metro-North are understandable. I hope he'll be similarly outraged at this mistake and get to the bottom of it.''
McKinney, in his "not credit-worthy" comment, was referring to the case of Tyler Gilbertie, a Waterford man who received $150,000 in state funding to open a new burrito restaurant in Mystic at the same time that he had mortgage debts of $728,000. His Lazy Burrito shop in Mystic and two other restaurants are now closed, and Gilbertie has since filed for bankruptcy. State officials had not checked to see whether any foreclosure lawsuits had been filed because Gilbertie received the state economic aid.
An East Haddam man, who asked that his name not be published, said he was stunned when he received a telephone call from another East Haddam resident who told him that his name, address, and Social Security number had been printed on another form.
"It's an awful thing,'' he said. ''It's a terrible mistake to put that out in the mail and not catch it. They are all paid well with our tax dollars. What's going to be next? This could lead to problems with people. … People aren't going to be happy that other people are getting their information. Doesn't anybody look at these things before they go in envelopes and go out the door?''
The man said he had worked seven days a week in his younger days, adding that his desire to be self-sufficient was not possible in a difficult economy. He preferred not to receive unemployment.
"I really didn't like it, and I hope I don't have to receive unemployment from the state again,'' he said. "They keep talking about how the economy is getting better, and I really don't see it. Where are these jobs being created? There's a lot of people who have exhausted their benefits.''
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