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May 27, 2004

150 Benefits Confirmations Sent to Wrong Employees

Pitt employees beware: Check your medical benefits confirmation statements carefully.
According to Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor of Human Resources (HR), about 150 confirmation letters mailed May 20 were printed incorrectly, meaning addressees received confidential benefits information about another employee, while their information went to someone else’s address.
The benefits statements include salary information, Social Security numbers, birth date, date of hire, health-care selections and information on dependents.
Rich Colwell, president of the Staff Association Council, said he received complaints from affected staff about the possibility of identity theft.
One employee who spoke on condition of anonymity told the University Times, “I feel that my privacy has been severely compromised. The unknown person who received my benefits confirmation form now knows everything about me.”
Frisch said: “Because the sequencing printing error was consistent and based on the duplicate copies of each confirmation statement retained by the University, we were quickly able to track where each confirmation statement was mailed. As a result, we have followed-up via e-mail with each affected faculty and staff member. In the unlikely event that identify theft results from this mailing error, we will be able to trace the source of the theft.”
Confirmation statements are mailed to employees’ homes after benefits selections are completed by the employee and recorded by Human Resources. There are about 12,000 employees who subscribe to Pitt health plan options, Frisch said.
The employee address and benefit elections information on the corrupt 150 forms printed May 20 did not match. “Essentially, the process that occurs to print the confirmation statements on a front and back page (with names and address on both sides) was printed out of sequence,” Frisch said. “New forms will be sent to the impacted people [who] received the erroneous copies.”
Frisch said HR’s e-mail to the affected individuals explained the error’s cause and instructed the employee to return the incorrect form to HR, or, in the event the employee had destroyed the form, to notify HR.
“HR is tracking each of the mismatched forms to make sure that they have all been recovered or reconciled,” Frisch told the University Times yesterday. “Since the discovery of this printing error on Monday [May 24] morning, we have been able to reliably account for the return or disposition of a large percent. We will continue our follow-up process until we have accounted for each of these confirmation statements.”
But the affected employee was not satisfied: “What steps has the University taken to protect me and my family? Merely asking for the return of the form seems insufficient. An error of this magnitude is inexcusable, and the response from Human Resources is unsatisfactory.”
-Peter Hart

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