HENRICO, Va, (WRIC) — After checking the status of an unemployment claim with the Virginia Employment Commission, a Henrico woman was stunned to discover she had access to 90 pages of confidential personal information about 16 people.
Sierra Williams said she could not believe her eyes Tuesday she saw the names of three people in the states, their Social Security numbers and workplaces in a PDF document on Williams’ VEC online profile. She had set up an account after filing her own unemployment claim.
“I noticed and I clicked on the paperwork to see if they had received mine, I clicked on it and there were 90 pages to the document. I started scrolling and only the first three pages of the document had my name on it. I kept scrolling through and I noticed there were multiple people names and Social Security numbers,” she said after contacting 8News with her concerns.
“I, I was just shocked and I wondered, you know, who else might have this information or how they might use that,” Williams added.
These extremely sensitive documents appear to be records from employment offices in Nevada, Colorado and Arkansas. The full social security numbers of five people in Nevada were listed, and the last four digits of the social security numbers of six people in Colorado and three people in Arkansas were listed as well.
The document also displayed the full social security numbers of two people living in states not labeled.
“I feel like most of those people have no idea that this happened,” Williams said
So, how could this happen?
Every single page in the PDF appears to have been sent via fax from Thomas & Company on March 14. The Nashville-based organization’s LinkedIn profile says it works on employment verification, and claims to be “awarded the highest data security credentials in our industry.”
The second page of the PDF is an official letter addressed to the VEC from an account representative at Thomas & Company. The letter is a response to Williams’s unemployment claims.
But, the pages keep turning, and turning — and turning, showing critical details about 16 other people’s claims in three different states.
“The VEC stamped every single page and they wrote my social at the top of all of those pages,” Williams said.
8News contacted a VEC spokesperson and an attorney for Thomas & Company. Both acknowledged they are looking into the matter.
It is unknown if the problem was a one-time flub or an example of an ongoing issue.
Thomas & Company and the VEC have not specifically responded to 8News’s questions, but Joyce Fogg, a VEC spokesperson, mentioned the incident should not have happened.
Alex Fardon, who identified himself as an attorney representing Thomas & Company, said they are further investigating what happened, but said in an email that the organization has “never received any report or complaint consistent with the contents of your [8News email requesting comment] email.”
“Thomas & Company takes data privacy extremely seriously and promptly responds to any report or complaint of any error in transmitting information,” Fardon also said in the email.