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Keeping Your Data Safe Isn’t Easy

By Steve Rensberry, Editor

Have you ever received a notice in the mail telling you that you were eligible for a payment from a class action settlement? I received my first one this past week, assigning me a “Unique Identification Number” and telling me that “a settlement has been reached with Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation a/k/a CHSPSC, LLC in a class action lawsuit about a data security incident that occurred in April and June, 2014, where CHSPCS’s computer network system was the target of an external criminal cyber attack.”

What puzzled me was that no doctor or hospital that I’ve been to in the past 10 years, that I can recall, has been affiliated with CHSPSC. Then there was the notice I received last year from the IRS, stating that I had been a victim of ID theft and urging me to lock down my credit accounts, verify my account status with the Social Security Administration, and take other steps. I have no idea if the two incidents are related, as the notice gave few details about the breach, except to say that CHSPSC had publicly announced the “Security Incident” on Aug. 1, 2014

According to a story published by the HIPPA Journal earlier this month, the theft involved an incredible 4.5 million patient health records. It stated: “At the time it was the largest healthcare data breach to be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights and still ranks as one of the top six healthcare data breaches of all time.”

While I still have yet to fill out the claim form, which, ironically, has to be done digitally, the good news is that individuals who merely lost time securing their accounts (and can show evidence of it), can claim as much as $250. Those who actually had their identity stolen — which the IRS letter says did indeed happened in my case — can claim as much as $5,000. Now we’re talking!

The incident doesn’t do much to boost my confidence in the safety of digital records, but if somehow I  get compensated at the higher amount because my ID was stolen, lunch is definitely on me!

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