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Social Security numbers of nearly 50,000 Californians disclosed

February 8, 2010 |  5:10 pm

Social California health officials have accidentally disclosed the Social Security numbers of nearly 50,000 of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

The numbers were printed on the outside of envelopes sent to elderly patients of the Adult Day Health Care program, many of whom are blind or have Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disabilities. The Department of Health Care Services sent the envelopes, which contained change-of-benefit notices,  Feb. 1.

Officials have since sent follow-up letters advising recipients to destroy the envelopes and are advising patients to contact credit agencies to put a freeze on new accounts.

“Why isn’t the state doing it for them?” asked Lydia Missaelides, executive director of the California Assn. for Adult Day services, who noted that the disclosure exposed the patients to identity theft. 

State employees mistakenly included the Social Security numbers in a list of patient addresses, said Karen Johnson, chief deputy director of the Department of Health Care Services.  The department sent the list to an outside contractor, who printed and mailed the envelopes.

-- Jack Dolan in Sacramento

File photo / David Fitzgerald / Los Angeles Times

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