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State offers free credit monitoring after Medicaid mail errorBenefits information was sent to wrong addresses

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State officials are offering free credit monitoring to about 500 people after Medicaid benefits information was mailed to the wrong addresses earlier this summer.

On July 5, annual medical assistance renewal notices were misdirected due to a faulty mail machine at the Department of General Services (DGS) that placed some of the notices into the wrong envelopes, officials said.

"As a result, another recipient could have possibly seen the intended recipient’s personal information, including: name, family members’ names, address, dates of birth, employers, earnings, and case record number. No social security numbers were contained in the notices," a joint statement from DGS and the state Department of Human Services (DHS) said.

The departments were made aware of the error on July 12, after recipients called to say they received the wrong information, the statement added.

DHS is mailing letters to medical assistance recipients whose benefit renewal notices were sent to the incorrect addresses. They provide information about free credit monitoring services and fraud protections the state will offer.

DGS immediately worked with the machine vendor to implement a system designed to detect such errors, as well as providing additional training for mail machine operators.

The error comes as privacy concerns are in the news amid high-profile national incidents involving mistakes and data breaches.

Last month, health insurer Aetna accidentally revealed HIV statuses for about 12,000 customers when letters about pharmacy benefits and prescriptions were mailed in envelopes with clear plastic windows that exposed the information. Some of those customers were in Pennsylvania, according to a legal advocacy group acting on their behalf.

Last week, consumer credit reporting agency Equifax said hackers had gained access to company data that potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers, including Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers.

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Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rogerdupuis2.

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