TIAA-CREF Corrects Thousands of Incorrect Statements

Nobody lost money, but some pension holders report confusion over mistakes and how they were handled.
April 23, 2007

About 48,000 people with TIAA-CREF accounts received statements with some errors during the first quarter of 2007. The errors have now been fixed, and TIAA-CREF says that no pension holder lost a penny as a result of the mistakes. But some people who manage academic employees who were affected report that there has been confusion and frustration about the process.

Chad Peterson, director of corporate media relations for TIAA-CREF, said that the mistakes were part of a "processing error related to the production of quarter end statements." Those affected by the mistake had some transactions missing from their monthly statements during the quarter, although the quarterly totals were correct, Peterson said. He added that the customers' Web records and TIAA-CREF's internal records were never wrong -- just the written statements sent to some customers.

Peterson said that about 1.5 percent of all TIAA-CREF statements had the error, but he declined to say how many people that represented. Pressed on the issue, he said that the company had decided to release only the percentage and not the number.

TIAA-CREF's corporate fact sheet states that the company has 3.2 million participants in its retirement system -- suggesting that about 48,000 individuals were affected.

One manager at a TIAA-CREF institution, who asked not to be identified, said that "as an academic who supervises dozens of people affected, I am dismayed at the errors TIAA-CREF has committed as well as their apparent inability to correct those errors in a timely and transparent way." This manager said that while "professors have been used to trusting TIAA-CREF," that trust has been "compromised" in recent years.

Peterson noted that TIAA-CREF discovered the error, recently sent letters to all of those affected, checked to make sure no account holder was hurt, and has fixed the problem. "The plan sponsors and clients were communicated with in a timely way," he said. "No clients were harmed."


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