Man who ordered tie gets company files instead

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SAN FRANCISCO — With a little more than two weeks to go before their wedding, Emily Dreyfuss’ fiancé ordered a tie and pocket square from Gap chain Banana Republic’s Web site to go with his Navy blue suit.

What the couple got in the mail instead Thursday would make an identity thief giddy: the confidential files of about 20 former employees, including Social Security numbers and W4 tax forms.

Dreyfuss, 29, had misgivings about the package as soon as it arrived. It was heavy and said Gap Inc., not Banana Republic.

She and her fiancé have been buying each other presents, and she thought it might have been a really heavy piece of clothing with catalogs, said Dreyfuss, the daughter of actor Richard Dreyfuss.

Inside were three folders sealed with tape and labeled “HR Administration.” They contained tax and Social Security information along with handwritten resignation letters, doctors’ notes and salary information. The employees were sales support associates, Drey­fuss said, and the resignation letters were mostly from March.

Dreyfuss, who runs the home page and writes for technology Web site CNET, said she didn’t look through everything.

San Francisco-based Gap Inc. blamed the mix-up on a human mistake.

“We’re taking immediate action to evaluate and strengthen our processes to prevent mis-mailings in the future and apologize for the error,” spokeswoman Edie Kissko said.

Dreyfuss said a Banana Republic representative has responded to a tweet about the mix-up and apologized.

Dreyfuss was told clothing and employee information is sent in the same type of gray plastic bag and that the two packages appear to have been mislabeled. It wasn’t clear how that happened.

The representative told Dreyfuss the store would look into what went wrong and inform the affected employees.

He said clothing and employee information is sent out in the same type of gray plastic bag. The employee information appears to have been mislabeled in this case. The representative said the store would look into what went wrong and informing the former employees, Dreyfuss said. They will send her a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the information in.

Ironically, Dreyfuss said her fiancee recently received someone else’s welcome packet from his new employer, with that employee’s salary and Social Security number.

Dreyfuss said the episode with Banana Republic raises concerns about how well the company is safeguarding customer information if even its employees’ information can be compromised.

“People should know about this because it’s crazy and scary,” she said.

In her statement, Kissko said the company takes the confidentiality of personal information very seriously.

Dreyfuss was offered a free tie and pocket handkerchief – a $61 value, but said she declined.


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