Hackers Stole Patient Info in Data Breach, Leading to Identity Theft Concerns
On Tuesday, August 19th, national hospital chain, Community Health Systems, reported that their database was breached, possibly by Chinese hackers, earlier this year. An astounding 4.5 million patients had their personal data stolen, leading to identity theft concerns.
The hospital chain said that medical data was not stolen in the breach, but the hackers did target personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, and Social Security numbers.
“One way to monitor whether fraudsters are trying to open new accounts in your name is by keeping close tabs on your credit reports,” said Norma Garcia, a senior attorney at Consumers Union. “Any new accounts opened in your name should appear in your credit report in virtually real time.”
Garcia suggested that patients who were treated at one of the national Community Health Systems chains check their credit reports about every three months for signs of identity theft. Consumers can also activate free fraud alerts or other online account management tools with their banks or other financial institutions, to protect against potential bank account fraud or identity theft.
Community Health Systems has several medical centers in South Carolina, including Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville, Carolinas Hospital System in Florence, Carolinas Hospital System in Mullins, Chester Regional Medical Center, Chesterfield General Hospital, Marlboro Park Hospital in Bennettsville, Mary Black Memorial Hospital in Spartanburg and Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster.
This is not the first time South Carolina residents have identity theft concerns after a hack attack. The state ranks 17th in the nation for identity theft complaints, in large part because of a 2012 hack attack on the South Carolina Department of Revenue, which was made vulnerable by outdated computer systems.
On Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, a new identity theft and protection unit will launch as part of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. The identity theft unit is being implemented as part of an identity theft protection law passed at the end of last year’s legislative session, which followed a massive hack attack into the Department of Revenue’s database. The law gave the DOR the go-ahead to create an identity theft protection office, which will add four new employees dedicated solely to protecting South Carolina consumers’ and tax payers’ identities.
Is Your Identity Protected?
Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
According to statistics from federal officials, one in every twenty Americans will fall victim to this crime. The only way to prevent this from happening is by reducing the risk that such a crime will affect you. Identity theft can ruin your name and your credit through erroneous charges and purchases, including the obtainment of loans that you neither applied for nor received funds from.
If you think that you have been a victim of identity theft, you should:
- File a police report immediately. This is important as this is evidence to be presented to creditors to claim your rights as a victim of identity theft.
- Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission as this informs law enforcement officials throughout the United States of the pending investigation.
- Register Fraud Alert on your credit reports. This can inform credit reporting services of anomalous activity on your credit for ninety (90) days.
Identity Theft Through Hack Attacks Can Hurt Your Future
If you have experienced identity theft, whether from a hack attack or robbery, you are not alone. The South Carolina attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help clear your name and even reinstate your social security benefits. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800