RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) incorrectly sent a Fluvanna County woman sensitive information about a person unknown to her who lives in Fredericksburg; the second known recent privacy misstep at the state agency.
Susan Bailey said the VEC’s lack of communication while she has been seeking answers about an appeals claim for benefits has felt like a “sucker punch, after sucker punch, after sucker punch.”
But in the eight months since she’s waited for a response, Bailey has received a letter from the VEC that listed the “claimant” as a woman with a Fredericksburg mailing address, and also listed the woman’s workplace and last four digits of her social security number.
“If I have somebody else’s information, who has mine? And for eight months I’ve been trying to find out,” Bailey told 8News.
Last month, a Henrico woman detailed that she had access to 90 pages of confidential information about people from Colorado, Nevada and Arkansas–all uploaded to her online profile with the VEC.
The agency removed the content the same day 8News alerted them to the documents, which included the employment verification information of the Henrico woman. The file was originally faxed to the VEC by a Nashville-based company that completes employment verification work for employers.
For three weeks, the VEC did not share details on how the agency overlooked this information before passing it on to someone else.
Last week, VEC Commissioner Carrie Roth told 8News that given the volume of information within the agency, “sometimes there are going to be errors.”
Roth agreed to a second interview with 8News Wednesday on the privacy issue. However, Roth dodged every opportunity to answer specifics about questions from 8News Reporter Ben Dennis.
“So would you consider this an error or more of a gross mishandling and completely overlooked?” Dennis asked.
Roth responded, “The information we received from an outside third-party vendor to the VEC. That information was received that said there was 90 pages, and that was uploaded into the system. That was received from the outside vendor.”
Roth’s response is incredibly similar to what she told 8News last week, and she repeated a similar answer to Dennis after several follow-up questions.
“Respectfully, why are you not answering my questions?” Dennis asked.
“Because the individual, from the outside third party vendor was the one who sent in the information, but sent 90 pages for that claimant,” Roth said.
“At what point do you think you might be able to answer our questions?” Dennis responded.
Roth said, “The answer to that question is exactly the answer that I have given, which is exactly what happened.”
“But you haven’t provided an explanation as to how the VEC had overlooked this,” Dennis added.
“The information was received about the claimant from an outside third-party vendor. That information was then uploaded into our system. When it was brought to our attention, we immediately removed the information and that was fixed,” Roth concluded.
8News went to the governor’s office to seek answers. Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin, said, “The individual at the VEC who receives the fax is not the verifier of the information. As is the procedure, VEC simply uploads these documents from the vendor.”
Porter added that Youngkin “is taking these technology issues seriously, and the governor plans to meet with the VEC soon “to help find solutions to these unfortunately chronic problems.“
8News will continue to investigate the VEC’s release of sensitive information.