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Human services department admits to web glitch that exposed personal info of 2,000 Pennsylvanians

Natasha Lindstrom
| Friday, July 13, 2018, 8:38 p.m.

A technical problem temporarily enabled people to use a state web platform to access the personal information of Pennsylvanians with whom they previously shared a household, the state Department of Human Services said Friday.

The full names, birth dates, citizenship status and employment information of more than 2,100 Pennsylvanians could have been exposed by the “system error,” which has been corrected, human services officials said in a statement.

“The system error could have caused individuals to see some information of persons who were formerly a part of their benefit household but now belong to a different active case record,” officials said.

They did not elaborate on how long the information was accessible but said they discovered the problem May 23.

Social Security numbers were not viewable during the glitch, according to the department.

The error affected the state’s COMPASS (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Access to Social Services) system — the online platform used to apply for and manage a wide range of benefits and services, including children’s health insurance, discounted school lunches, cash assistance, food stamps, utility discounts, disability services and long-term care.

It also is the system used by employers and community providers to obtain child abuse clearances for those who work or volunteer in roles that involve contact with children.

As of Friday, “client information is no longer viewable by previous household members” and “there is no indication that information was misused,” the department said in the statement.

The department said it sent letters to 2,130 individuals affected by the error to notify them about the incident.

It also provided guidance on how those affected can obtain free credit reports to ensure there have been no unauthorized transactions in their name.

For more information, contact the state’s customer service center at 1-877-395-8930 or c-oimdhc@pa.gov.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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