Names, case numbers, even social security numbers. It’s all information a former Oklahoma resident received recently from people calling and leaving voicemails on her cell phone who were looking to get help from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Heather Hobbs moved to Washington state from Oklahoma. She said she has never worked for DHS or ever received benefits from the state.
Hobbs said she began receiving calls forwarded to her cell phone from a hotline at random starting at 8 a.m. Friday.
“I probably got 70 phones calls that day and about 30 to 40 voicemails,” said Hobbs.
One caller told Hobbs she called the number, pressed 9, which then caused her phone to ring.
“I was getting social security numbers, bank account information, I was getting first and last names, case numbers, all of the information that you could easily use to steal someone’s identity,” said Hobbs. “(I could of) just pretended to keep working with this department, called them back and said I’d love to get your deposit sorted out. Give me your bank account information. Let me verify your social security number and then boom, I’m running away with their information doing god knows what.”
Hobbs said she called DHS twice Friday about the problem which yielded no results. Calls, Hobbs said, continued into Monday.
“Even after changing my voicemail to let people know, ‘do not leave me your information, I don’t work with DHS,’ they still were leaving voicemails,” said Hobbs.
In a statement to News 9, DHS spokesperson Casey White said, the incident was an accidental error involving a contractor.
“This was an accidental error on the part of an OKDHS contractor. However, this situation has already been resolved and we have followed up with Ms. Hobbs.”
With so many hurting right now amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hobbs said she just wanted to do the right thing.
“I want everyone to be able to get the help that they need and unfortunately I can’t do that,” said Hobbs.
Hobbs said she has deleted any voicemail she received that contained personal information.
It is unclear what contractor was involved in the incident.