The personal information of approximately 4,000 custodial parents were accidentally released by the Division of Child Support in Washington state, a violation of health privacy laws, the Seattle Times reports.
The agency announced that addresses were released, but none of those addresses were those of highly sensitive clients, such as foster families or victims of domestic violence. The individuals whose addresses were released have been contacted.
Addresses were accidentally released at the beginning of July, when a letter was sent to the employers of noncustodial parents to inform them of children who should be placed on the employee’s healthcare insurance plan.
In these letters, it was appropriate to include the addresses of the children and their custodial parents, but copies of these letters were inadvertently sent to the noncustodial parents. According to Adolfo Capestany, a spokesman for the Division of Child Support, an error in the coding of insurance-enrollment forms caused the mishap.
The release of personal information is not just a matter of privacy, but also of security. In some cases, noncustodial parents have been known to kidnap their own children. For example, a child in Tulsa was recently reported missing after his mother, the noncustodial parent, took off with him, KTUL reports. The child was eventually found at a Salvation Army.