A problem at the Minnesota Department of Human Services didn’t pose much of an ethical dilemma for recipients of incorrectly mailed checks.
Fifteen-thousand checks were mailed to the wrong addresses, according to Chuck Johnson, an assistant commissioner for children and family services at DHS. But they had the correct name on them. He told MPR’s Toni Randolph that 1,900 of the 15,300 checks mailed had already been cashed when they realized the error. He said some of the checks had made their way to the proper people, redirected through the post office. Half of the checks mailed out were returned as undeliverable.
“We had made a programming change in our computer system to fix a small problem we had with addresses and inadvertently created a larger problem,” he said.
One recipient told MPR News her employer got 23 envelopes with checks. “I opened the first one in the automatic mail opening one does, assuming that all the mail in the pile is for us. That was a check for $81 made out to someone else. I didn’t open the rest of them as they were obviously checks and obviously wrong,” she said. “We did eventually get a check addressed to our company that was for us from that department. It was rent assistance for one of our tenants.”
Most of the checks were payments to providers of group residential housing.
The state has promised to reimburse anyone who incurs bank fees as a result of its mistake.