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Paper applications are available in lieu of using the HealthCare.gov website at a health care enrolment fair co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the State Employees Association at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder Paper applications are available in lieu of using the HealthCare.gov website at a health care enrolment fair co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the State Employees Association at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder  

Colorado loses personal info on 19,000 state employees

A Colorado state employee lost a thumb drive with the private information of about 19,000 other employees in late November, possibly including names, addresses and Social Security numbers.

To make matters worse, the way in which the state notified those who are affected caused many to think the whole incident was a hoax.

Accorditng to the Denver Post, employees learned about the information loss through a letter that contained the state seal, but no letterhead or contact phone numbers. A link to the attorney general’s office website didn’t work.

But the letter was real and a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology apologized for the confusion, saying the link was formatted wrong.

There is “no indication that this information has been misused or stolen,” the state said, but the drive can’t be found. The employee — who hasn’t been named and the department for which he or she works hasn’t been identified — lost the drive when transporting it from one work location to another. The person was found to have violated protocol and has been disciplined, the Post reports.

“The Office of Information Security is continuing all necessary efforts to recover the file,” Jonathan Trull, Colorado’s Chief Information Security Officer, told Denver’s CBS4. “We are also reviewing and revising procedures and practices to minimize the risk of recurrence.”

The state warned those receiving the letter to be on the lookout for identity theft.

“We deeply regret that this incident occurred,” the letter said.

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