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Mailing Exposes Personal Data

August 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL—A health study sent out to more than 2,000 adolescent girls by the University of Florida inadvertently contained their Social Security or Medicaid identification numbers on the address labels. University officials have notified the recipients of the gaffe contained in the letter, which sought participation in a study about vaccination against human papillomavirus, or HPV, the Gainesville Sun reported.

The problem was discovered June 6. The university conducted an investigation into the incident and notified state and federal officials of the breach, the newspaper reported.

There has been no indication that the revealed information has been used illicitly.

The numbers on the mailing labels were supposed to be randomly generated, but instead included roughly 650 Social Security and 1,400 Medicaid numbers. An alphabetical character preceded the numbers, and there were no hyphens used.

Both the research firm, Macro International of Burlington, VT, and printer Renaissance Printing, based here, plan to destroy the information and sign legal documents to that effect, according to the paper. The mistake cost the University of Florida roughly $1,500 in printing and postage costs.


 

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