TSA contractor sends personal information to wrong former employees

September 12, 2006

The agency responsible for safeguarding the nation's airports from terrorists has its own security problem after a contractor accidentally mailed documents containing Social Security numbers of former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees to the wrong addresses.

In the latest privacy breach to affect a government entity, Accenture, an outsourcer responsible for personnel management at TSA, sent 1,195 documents to the wrong former employees, USA Today reported. The forms, sent to employees after they leave a government job, usually list sensitive information that could be used to steal identities, such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and salary.

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis could not be reached for comment today by SC Magazine. But another agency representative told USA Today last week that the breach was "an administrative error, and the contractor has taken steps to ensure it's not repeated."

An Accenture spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Experts told the paper they do not think the information is at high risk for ID theft because those who errantly received the documents are former employees who have passed background checks and understand the value of security.

Ken Rutsky, executive vice president for worldwide products and marketing at security firm Workshare, said organizations need to implement technologies that alert employers and outsourcers whenever they are working with sensitive information.

"These things tend to happen in general because people dealing with that data aren't aware of the sensitivity of the data or the policy in dealing with the data," he said today.

The TSA has advised victims to place a fraud alert on their credit files, the paper said.

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.

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