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Policies and Benefits

November/December 2017
Volume 25 Issue 02

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TDCJ joins FBI Rap Back Service with new fingerprint technology

Every TDCJ and TDCJ-contracted employee undergoes a criminal record check when hired, and this includes acquiring fingerprints for submission to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s searchable database. If an employee is arrested, DPS uses these fingerprints to report the arrest to TDCJ’s Human Resources Employee Relations Section.

Clipart image of fingerprint close-up with magnifying glass inspecting a portion of it, revealing digital code.

In January, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Fingerprint-based Applicant Clearinghouse of Texas (FACT) began implementing the Federal Bureau of Investigation Rap Back Service as part of the Bureau’s Next Generation Identification system. The Rap Back Service can automatically send immediate, nationwide results regarding current employees’ arrests and criminal history information to TDCJ.

TDCJ’s participation in this program requires current employees to sign a consent and authorization form, which will be available from their HR representatives. Participation is a condition of employment, and any refusals will be subject to separation of employment.

Employees hired prior to June 1, 2015 will be re-fingerprinted by August 31, 2018. Commenting on this procedure, Human Resources Division Director Patty Garcia noted, “We will work to be in compliance with DPS requirements, and coordinate with each location to ensure we have a smooth and effective process to accommodate the re-fingerprinting of employees.” Human Resources is developing a schedule to acquire these fingerprints during the next few months, and HR representatives will be providing staff with information about this process.

Details about the Rap Back Service and individual privacy protections are available on the FBI website.

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Tax forms scheduled for distribution

Image of male's hands filling out tax forms on desktop. Computer keyboard, coffee cup and calculator nearby.

Tax time is approaching and, along with the W-2 wage and salary information form used to report income and withholdings, taxpayers will again use 1095 forms to report that they and their tax dependents had medical insurance coverage during the previous year or to claim the premium tax credit.

Form W-2

Form W-2 shows your wage and salary information, and the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. Your W-2 is sent by the agency's Payroll Processing Department to unit or departmental human resources offices for distribution by January 31, 2018. Inactive employees who are on leave without pay or separated as of the printing date will receive their 2017 forms by mail at their home address.

It’s important to withhold the correct amount from your monthly paycheck. If you withhold too little, you’ll have to pay a tax bill at the end of the year; if you withhold too much, you lose access to your money until you receive a refund check.

To withhold the correct amount, keep your Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate up to date. You submit a W-4 whenever you need to change the amount of your withholding deduction, and it can be turned in to either your unit or departmental human resources office or directly to Payroll Processing.

Form 1095-B

The Affordable Care Act requires most United States citizens to have a minimal level of medical insurance. TDCJ employees covered by the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program can use Form 1095-B to verify they and any covered dependents had medical insurance during 2017 to avoid the fine.

Every medical coverage provider that covered you and any of your dependents for at least one day in 2017 is required to send you a Form 1095-B. If you had GBP medical coverage in 2017 and don’t have your 1095-B by the end of February, or if you lose it, contact your medical insurance provider to request another copy. If you had medical coverage through another employer's carrier, you will receive a separate Form 1095-B from each one.

Active employees should contact their benefits coordinator to correct any errors on the form; former employees and retirees can make corrections by contacting the Employees Retirement System. If you have to make corrections, check with your medical coverage provider to find out if you need an updated 1095-B.

Form 1095-C

TDCJ will send agency employees a Form 1095-C, which includes information about the health insurance coverage offered to you. Form 1095-C can only be used by those who purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, so most TDCJ employees will not use the form. However, if you purchased health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and wish to claim the premium tax credit, this information will assist you in determining whether you are eligible. Contact your benefits coordinator if you have questions regarding Form 1095-C.

As with all tax records, keep your 1095 forms on file as supporting documentation.

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HealthSelect members to pay higher costs at out-of-network freestanding ERs

As of January 1, HealthSelect no longer pays the amount billed by out-of-network freestanding emergency rooms, even if the care is due to a true emergency. If you are a HealthSelect member and get services from an out-of-network freestanding ER, you will pay more of the cost than in the past.

Image of red 'Emergency' sign on front of medical building.

Freestanding ERs are usually found in convenient locations and can easily be confused with an urgent care center, a convenience clinic or even a small hospital emergency room. While they provide emergency medical services, they are not affiliated with and are not physically connected to a hospital and most are not in the HealthSelect network.

You can prepare for medical emergencies and keep health care costs down by using the HealthSelect Provider Finder to find the in-network options available in your area. More information about HealthSelect coverage for urgent and emergency medical care is available on the Employees Retirement System website.

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Employee Assistance Program

Feeling Stressed? EAP can help! The Employee Assistance Program is available to all TDCJ employees for help with their professional and personal lives. For more information about the EAP, call 866-832-5927 or visit the agency's EAP web page.

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Information Security: protect your Personally Identifiable Information

Image of male's hands filling out tax forms on desktop. Computer keyboard, coffee cup and calculator nearby.

As part of their job duties, some TDCJ employees have access to confidential information about agency staff or offenders. Keeping this information secure and out of the wrong hands is an important part of the agency’s mission, but the history of successful computer hacks over the last few years might make you think that nothing on the web is safe from criminals.

Last year’s Equifax data breach, which compromised the security of more than 145 million credit reports and related personal information, was just the latest in a long line of hacks. Over the last few years, cybercriminals around the world have gained unauthorized access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of user accounts held by an assortment of groups including social media and professional networks, health care insurance providers and online gamers. Even possessing a simple store credit card could put your information at risk.

It’s important to understand how confidential data is protected when shared with organizations and what you can do to protect yourself. Your social and financial reputations are closely tied to this personal information and recovery from such an event can be extremely difficult, which has led to the adoption of laws requiring strict safeguards over the storage and use of Personally Identifiable Information, or PII.

PII applies to any confidential information that can be used to learn your identity: your full name, age, date of birth, gender, driver’s license number or other numerical identifier such as a Social Security Number, as well as your home or e-mail address.

It is TDCJ’s responsibility to make sure your PII and any other confidential information in its possession are protected as stipulated in Texas Administrative Code, and things like software security programs, password-protected data access and cybercrime awareness training help prevent hackers from gaining unauthorized access to this data. Since the agency also handles confidential criminal justice information that can include an offender’s PII, we are under strict rules regarding storage, transmission and usage of this information. The best ways for agency employees to protect TDCJ data is to be familiar with the agency’s Information Resource Security Program, and follow the security program’s stipulations and guidelines to avoid releasing confidential information.

To help protect your own confidential information, you must be proactive and closely monitor your credit report for unanticipated changes. You can request one free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis - each year. If you find incorrect information, contact whichever credit bureau created the report to fix the issue. If your personal information is compromised, request that a fraud alert be implemented on your credit file so you will be notified of any suspicious activity.

If you think your PII might have been hacked and your identity is in jeopardy, contact the credit bureaus and request a security freeze on your credit file. The fee for placing a security freeze commonly ranges from $5 to $10, and freezing an account will stop any inquiries regarding your credit from unfamiliar organizations, but will not affect groups with whom you already do business and have previously reported on your file, such as the bank that maintains your credit card. Later, if you want to establish credit with a new lender, you can arrange to have the credit bureau reactivate your file. More information about security freezes is available on the Federal Trade Commission's Credit Freeze FAQ.

For additional peace of mind, you can subscribe to an identity monitoring service, but be sure you thoroughly research the company before you commit, and always use strong and unique passwords or passphrases for each online account; a password manager application can be useful to help you keep track of this information.

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Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

Waste, fraud and abuse of state resources cost all taxpayers millions of dollars each year

The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to detecting, investigating and prosecuting reports of waste, fraud and abuse of state resources within all divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

If you have any information regarding waste, fraud or abuse of state benefits, equipment, personnel or funds, please contact the Office of the Inspector General, Crime Stoppers or the State Auditor’s Office toll free.

Crime Stoppers 1-800-832-8477 Office of Inspector General 1-866-372-8329 State Auditor's Office 1-800-892-8348

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