Thousands of PFDs sent out in error

About 5,500 Permanent Fund Dividends are being recalled.

The PFDs were sent out in error. Approximately 3,600 were deposited directly into bank accounts and 1,900 were sent out as paper checks.

PFD Division Director Deborah Bitney says employees didn’t match correct records in a new software program and dividends were paid to applicants instead of creditors.

The software is called “eGarns” and it’s being used for the first time this year.

“This affects only debts that are basically court ordered, like restitution, judgments for debts that are unpaid, things like that,” Bitney says.

It does not affect garnishments for child support, she says.

The division has requested that direct deposits be reversed and also has issued stop payment orders on the checks. Bitney says the error was discovered late Monday afternoon. While the total amount of the error isn’t available, it’s expected to be nearly $7 million.

Bitney says it’s important to get the word out about the error.

“You know, 99 percent of the dividends that went out are just fine,” she says. “This affects a very small subset of the population. We really are trying to help those people and we would like them to contact us as quickly as possible once they find out they are involved in this.”

Bitney says safeguards have been programmed into “eGarns” to prevent similar errors.

Nearly every Alaskan received $1,174 in this year’s PFD.