News

Your Identity in a Stranger’s Mailbox

Derry Forms Debacle
By Drew Weidman and Dave Buffington

More than 2,000 Derry Township residents have had sensitive personal informa­tion – including their names, addresses and Social Security numbers – disclosed by the Derry Township Tax Collec­tion Association.

The snafu came with IRS Form 1099s mailed by the Association to residents who received local tax refunds. The forms have the name and personal information of one resident at the top … but the name and personal informa­tion of a different resident at the bottom.

Dave Buffington, the edi­tor of The Sun, is one of the victims of the forms debacle.

“I actually received two forms, one with 2009 refund info and one with 2010 refund info, each with the name, ad­dress and SSN of someone else in the township,” said Buffington. “I could take that info and get a bunch of credit cards in their names.”

Plenty to Say

The Association is housed in the township complex and collects both real estate and personal taxes for the town­ship. It issued a statement to The Sun, saying, in part, that, “The Tax Association accepts full responsibility for this mistake and is undertaking actions to correct the error.”

In a separate statement, Security Savings Systems, the subcontractor that printed the forms, took the fall. “In order to fit the printing job on our equipment, it was designed with two separated compo­nents printed on the same sheet. The two forms were supposed to be cut apart with the top piece mailing to the taxpayers as their 1099G, and the bottom part to be given to the Tax As­sociation for their records. The forms were mistakenly mailed with the bottom part in­tact.”

Security Savings System also said, “We are investigating how to provide credit monitoring for a year to anyone who wishes to sign up.”

Both statements appear in full later in this ar­ticle.

Meanwhile, the victims of the snafu had plenty to say. “The Township of Derry Tax Col­lection Association made a BIG MISTAKE this year,” wrote photographer Kevin J. Fischer on Jan. 31. “To make matters worse, the Township of Derry Tax Collection Association did not no­tify me of this problem. They are not willing to help me find out who has MY information … and did not even apologize for sending out all of my financial information to a complete stranger!!!”

$100,000 per Disclosure

It is unclear what legal troubles this creates for Derry Township and the Tax Collection As­sociation … but they could be big.

The federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act makes it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to “disclose to a nonaffiliated third party any non­public personal information.”

Institutions who violate that law – and the of­ficers of those organizations – are subject to pen­alties of up to $100,000 per disclosure.

Association Statement

Here is the full, Feb. 1, statement from the Derry Township Tax Collection Association:

The Derry Township Tax Association was notified yesterday, Tuesday, January 31, that Se­curity Savings Systems, Inc., a service company, contracted by the Association to prepare and mail 1099G Forms for local tax refunds paid in 2011, made an error.

Security Services Systems, Inc., neglected to remove the bottom portion of the form that con­tained the information of another 1099G recipi­ent. 2,036 individuals were affected by this error. The Tax Association accepts full responsibility for this mistake and is undertaking actions to correct the error.

The method of preparing the 1099G Forms has been evaluated and procedures have been put in place to insure the protection of personal infor­mation of taxpayers in future mailings.

The Derry Township Police Department has been consulted and a list has been compiled of the personal information that was sent and to whom it was sent.

Security Savings Systems, Inc., will contact all of the individuals involved and will provide credit-monitoring services for one year to those who are affected.

The Tax Association is sincerely sorry that this has occurred and for any inconvenience that it may cause. The Association assures taxpayers that they are available for assistance and to dis­cuss their concerns.

Subcontractor Statement

Here is the full statement from Silas Mosher, Vice President, Security Savings Systems:

It came to my attention yesterday that our company made a serious error in the printing and mailing of the 1099G forms on behalf of Derry Township Tax Association. In order to fit the printing job on our equipment, it was designed with two separated components printed on the same sheet. The two forms were supposed to be cut apart with the top piece mailing to the tax­payers as their 1099G, and the bottom part to be given to the Tax Association for their records. The forms were mistakenly mailed with the bot­tom part intact.

Because there is a difference in the mailing order and the record order, the information on the bottom contained another taxpayer’s informa­tion, address, and social security number. I want to stress that we have a complete record of the recipients of the information.

We will be mailing an explanation letter to­day to all of the effected residents. We are inves­tigating how to provide credit monitoring for a year to anyone who wishes to sign up. This will be free of charge, but we will need to have each person’s permission to allow monitoring by Equi­fax, Trans Union, and Experian. I’m sorry that this mistake occurred and we will work with the Tax Association officials to help to minimize the impact, and correct this error.


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