On February 10, 2021

Legislative update: VDOL’s data breach and rejection of EO restructuring

By Sen. Alison Clarkson

Given all that the Vermont Dept. of Labor (VDOL) has experienced with processing the vast numbers of Covid Unemployment claims, it was very discouraging to have the VDOL face a significant data security breach early last week. VDOL had mailed out about half of the 1099G tax forms only to discover that of the 90,000 forms mailed, about 55,000 were incorrect, subjecting approximately 44,800 people to having their identities compromised. A significant number of people discovered that their names were mismatched with social security numbers and addresses.

The VDOL has issued a mass recall of these 1099G tax documents. If you are one of the people affected, you should have already received an email from the VDOL outlining steps to take immediately:

1) If your name, address or social security numbers do not match, save the tax forms and a pre-stamped return envelope will be sent to you in which to return the 1099G;

2) Freeze your credit accounts;

3) A 1099G hotline has been established in the VDOL’s Claimant Assistance Call Center at 1-877-214-3332 to answer questions;

4) VDOL will be offering credit monitoring services at no charge to protect those claimants whose identity may have been compromised.  They are currently exploring these options and will be in touch asap with how to enroll; and

5) all of the affected UI claimants will be receiving a new, clearly marked, 1099G form as soon as possible.

The VDOL has a new FAQ document and the link to that is: labor.vermont.gov/document/1099-incident-faq-2521

There is a robust investigation now underway. It is clear the data somehow got jumbled between being verified at VDOL and the printing and mailing of the 1099Gs. The Legislature and the administration are focused on how to fix the problem going forward, improving quality control and making sure it doesn’t happen again. Action plans are in place to recapture the 1099Gs, protect the claimants and re-issue new 1099Gs.  We cannot afford to have this happen again.

On a different topic, last week the Senate voted to support Senate Resolution 6 and reject Executive Order (EO) 02-21, which aimed to reorganize Act 250 Natural Resources board and district commissions. Our only option was to approve or reject the order as executive orders may not be altered in any way. This order made significant changes to the Act 250 review process without the benefit of any input from the public or the Legislature.

There is work to be done updating Act 250 but the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Senate felt that would best be done with full legislative scrutiny. The committee was concerned about the unintended consequences and the budget increases assumed in this EO.

There is precedent for the Senate’s action. Several years ago the Legislature rejected the EO that merged the departments of liquor and lottery. Instead, the Legislature accomplished the same goal but after thoughtful review, with input from all stakeholders. The Legislature expects to bring forward a bill that updates many aspects of Act 250, but only after the Legislature has had the opportunity to review the complex issues involved, considers the recommendations of the Act 250 Commission, and its research and analysis, and goes through the productive work of a full legislative committee process.

Alison Clarkson is a state Senator from Windsor County, aclarkson@leg.state.vt.us.

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