All correspondence from the Ministry of Social Development's (MSD) historic claims unit has been stopped while a privacy breach is investigated.
MSD boss Brendan Boyle says the probe was initiated after a claimant contacted the ministry yesterday saying they mistakenly received sensitive information meant for someone else.
"People need to be able to trust us in what is a very sensitive process," Mr Boyle said in a statement.
"We need to get to the bottom of what has occurred here and to understand what needs to be done to prevent any further errors."
MSD has apologised to the two people affected and the information is being recovered.
"The historic claims unit has thorough checking processes. Clearly something has gone wrong and we need to understand what has occurred," Mr Boyle said.
All correspondence from the unit, including emails, has been temporarily halted while it's worked out what went wrong.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says she's "very distressed" about the situation.
"These are people who have been let down by the system already," she told reporters.
The historic claims unit deals with people who were abused or mistreated while in state care.
source: newshub archive