GarCo employee loses sensitive data disk

Garfield County mailed notices to 7,000 people after a Department of Human Services employee took a disk with sensitive data home and then lost it.

Those notified are past Human Services program applicants and recipients, and the data included about 267 Social Security numbers. The disk couldn’t be found after an extensive search. Human Services director Lynn Renick said it apparently was thrown away or shredded.

Neither the disk nor its contents were identified as county Human Services information.

The disk contained a spreadsheet providing a tracking system for applications, and it included the names of adult heads of households and corresponding program codes. Renick said the Social
Security numbers were raw data that would be hard to find on the disk’s spreadsheet and match up with a name. However, she said the county decided to notify people as a precautionary measure.

“There’s very little risk, if any” of the disk’s data being accessed, she said.

Renick said she can’t discuss what disciplinary action may have been taken against the employee involved because it’s a personnel issue.

The employee took the disk when the department was changing to a new process and conducting training, Renick said. That action wasn’t permitted by the department’s confidentiality policy, and in October the staff member reported the incident to the department, she said.

Renick said it cost a couple of thousand dollars to mail the notifications, and the county is working with the state Department of Human Services on the matter.


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