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More Utahns express concern after personal information mix-up at state office

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Nov 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-14 20:19:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY – There were more signs of trouble Thursday at the state agency in charge of processing child support payments for thousands of Utahns.

A story earlier this week regarding an error made by Utah's Office of Recovery Services triggered other viewers to contact FOX 13 News regarding their poor experiences with the state agency.

Tuesdays story about a West Valley City woman who had received someone else's Social security information was described as an isolated incident by the ORS, but in the last 48 hours FOX 13 News has heard from two others who said they've also received documents they shouldn't have.

Officials with Utah’s ORS office said Thursday they are underfunded, and overburdened with cases.

"It takes a couple days to get through, when you do get through it takes 45 minutes to an hour,” said ORS recipient Amy Cipriano.

Amy Cipriano is one of many recipients who is frustrated with her experiences with the agency.

“I got their Social Security numbers, their dates of birth, how much they were getting: It wasn't even this state, it was a completely different state,” Cipriano said.

When we sat down with Elizabeth Sollis of the Utah Department of Human Services for the second time, she began with an apology but explained with state budget cuts the ORS has seen a 20 percent reduction in funding since 2009, and every year the case load has increased

“Unfortunately, like a lot of other state agencies and private entities, the recession has really caused a negative impact,” she said. “So we're trying to provide the best service we can, and unfortunately we’re doing it with less staff.”

Sollis said ORS processes about 60,000 to 90,000 documents each month, and she said the agency prioritizes the privacy of its recipients but admits the system isn’t perfect.

“It’s hard to say exactly what happened,” Sollis said. “We know the wrong documents were sent out erroneously, and we’re doing what we can to correct that.”

ORS officials said its office receives on average just over 800 calls each day. There are 18 customer service agents to handle those calls and the emails that come through.

Officials at ORS said some days and times are busier than others, and a person’s odds of getting a timely response are best if they call between Tuesday and Friday after 2 p.m. Officials also suggest sending an email in addition to leaving a message.

“I just think they need to be more careful or find different people, a change of the guards so to speak: somebody that’s going to do the job right,” Cipriano said.