N.J. breach blamed on a “clerical error”

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development recently sent the personal information of numerous unemployed individuals to companies they never worked for.

How many victims? 28,000 individuals are being notified that their information may be at risk, but the number of actual victims is believed to be much smaller.

What type of personal information? Names and Social Security numbers.

What happened? Last month, the Labor Department sent first-quarter notices to businesses listing former employees collecting unemployment benefits. Because some companies laid off a significant number of employees, the reports were longer than usual, requiring staff members to stuff the envelopes by hand rather by machine, Labor Department spokesman Kevin Smith told

As a result, some reports were placed in the wrong envelopes, he said. As of Monday, seven employers called the department to say they received information on people they never employed.

Details: New Jersey has about 375,000 residents collecting unemployment benefits. About 240,000 companies receive notices about former employees collecting benefits.

Quote: "This is a fluke," Smith said. "This was just a clerical error."

What was the response? Letter recipients were directed to call the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs for more information on credit reporting and identity theft protection.

Source:, New Jersey On-Line, “N.J. accidentally reveals personal data of 28K unemployed residents,” May 18, 2009.

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