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Residents upset over letter sent by Broome County, wrongly addresses dead loved ones

(WBNG) — Broome County residents are upset over a letter they received from the county this week regarding its security breach.

12 News first told you about the breach into a part of county’s computer system back in May.

The county said sensitive information may have gotten into the wrong hands with people affected including those who received care from or who are associated with certain county departments and offices.

Some residents tell 12 News the letter they received in connection to the breach was upsetting.

Endicott mother Tami Brown says, “I was furious, I was upset because he’s literally standing next to me,” after receiving a letter on Broome County letterhead addressing her dead loved one’s personal information.

She says that loved one is her five-year-old son who is very much alive.

Calling the number listed on the letter, she says she was told, “there was a database error and they sent the wrong form letters out to people.”

12 News reached out to the Broome County Executive’s Office regarding the letter.

They directed us to Mullen Coughlin LLC, working on behalf of the county who sent us this statement:

“On Friday, August 9, 2019, Broome County mailed another wave of these letters. For some individuals, a coding error occurred, and letters that were intended to be addressed to the “Parent or Guardian” were erroneously addressed to the “Next of Kin.” The correct letters are being re-mailed with a note that this error is inconsistent with the care and respect that Broome County seeks to provide individuals whose personal information is in its care and that it sincerely apologizes.”

Brown says this was the first time she heard of the breach and is scared of what it means for her family.

Mullen Coughlin also addressed that concern on the county’s behalf, saying in part:

“Broome County initially provided notice of this event by way of a press release and web posting on May 31, 2019.  A copy of the notice can be found here –  Impacted individuals were associated with a number of different Broome County departments, and identifying and aggregating addresses for individuals was a time consuming process.  Broome County sent notices in waves as address information was located.”

Now that she’s aware, Brown is concerned.

“From what I was able to tell, nobody’s touched his social security number or anything, but it doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have the information and down the road could either sell it to someone or do something with it,” said Brown.

The letter said with the exception of some direct deposit information, the county can’t confirm if any info within the email accounts that were affected were actually accessed without permission.

The county says they are adding in more technical safeguards to prevent future situations.

Julia Gorman

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