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How did CFPUA accidentally release sensitive information about some customers?

Kevin Maurer
StarNews
Water faucet

Sensitive information about 10 Cape Fear Public Utility Authority customers was accidentally released July 14, 2011. (StarNews file photo)

Cheryl Spivey, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s chief financial officer, said in an email on Friday, July 29, 2011, that confidential information from 10 customers was released by accident on July 14, 2011.

A customer went to the CFPUA office to get information on his or her account, and an authority employee accidentally released the sensitive information that was printed on a sheet of paper. The paper had the names, addresses, account numbers, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers of 10 customers.

The customer left the authority’s offices with the sensitive information and went to (New Hanover County) Social Services where it was discovered and a Social Services employee contacted the authority.

“The Social Services employee has indicated to us that the information has been shredded,” Spivey said. “We believe that the information had limited exposure.”

The 10 customers impacted were called and the authority sent letters notifying them of the incident and offering one year of credit monitoring services with Life Lock. Only one customer had accepted the credit protection as of Friday.

The authority also retrained employees on protecting sensitive information.

“CFPUA takes the security of sensitive and confidential information very seriously,” Spivey said.

User-contributed question by:
steve queen

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4 Responses to “ How did CFPUA accidentally release sensitive information about some customers?”

  1. On July 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm Bill wrote:

    I am assuming since this was a gov’t employee no punitive action was taken and that employee received extra “training”. If this happened in a private firm that person would be fired.

  2. On July 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm T E Benjey wrote:

    Why does the CFPUA need social security numbers at all? Have they been challenged on this? Is a SSN required to establish service?

  3. On July 30, 2011 at 9:18 am Josh wrote:

    Why does CFPUA require a customer to provide a Social Security number for for water and sewer service. This is a violation of the intent of the Social Security Act and should not be a condition of public utility service.

  4. On August 9, 2011 at 8:41 am Jenny wrote:

    Give me a break on “if this was a private firm the employee would have been fired”. This happens all the time in the private sector just it does not make the news because as a government agency it is quickly made public. It was a mistake that was quickly resolved. Banks and credit card companies have this happen all the time with the exception it is usually thousands of customers and there is limited media coverage. I think we all have recieved a new debit card at some point because of a bank error.
    Why would they want a ssn – report to a credit agency, skip tracing, etc. CFPUA is a business, how many private businesses do not want your ssn before they will sign you up for any type of credit.



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