January 27, 2023 - On December 29, 2022 Howard Memorial Hospital (“HMH”), issued notice of a recent data security event that may impact certain types of information related to patients and current or former employees of HMH. Now that the investigation has completed, HMH is providing an update regarding the event, our response, and steps potentially impacted individuals can take to better protect against the possibility of identity theft and fraud, should they feel it is appropriate to do so.
What Happened? On December 4, 2022, HMH became aware of suspicious activity within its computer network, and allegations made by an unknown actor that data had been stolen from the HMH network. Steps were promptly taken to secure HMH’s network, and an investigation began with assistance from outside cybersecurity specialists to determine the nature and scope of this activity and to safely maintain full operational functionality so HMH could continue to treat patients. HMH learned that certain files were potentially stolen from our network by an unknown actor between November 14, 2022 and December 4, 2022.
HMH worked diligently to perform a comprehensive review of at-risk files in order to identify individuals whose information may have been impacted by this event. Ultimately, HMH made the decision to notify all current or former patients and employees, in an abundance of caution, due to a potential impact to their information.
Which Patients / What Information was Affected? The types of information potentially impacted for patients includes name, contact information, date of birth, Social Security number, health insurance information, medical record number (MRN), medical history, diagnosis, treatment information, and physician name. The types of information potentially impacted in relation to current and former HMH employees includes name, contact information, date of birth, Social Security number, and direct deposit bank account information.
What We are Doing. HMH takes this event and the security of your information seriously. Upon learning of this event, we immediately took steps to secure our network and ensure that we could maintain operations in a safe and secure fashion. As part of our ongoing commitment to the privacy of personal information in our care, we are working to review our existing policies and procedures and to implement additional administrative and technical safeguards to further secure the information on our systems. Notice was also provided to federal law enforcement and to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What Affected Individuals Can Do. Potentially affected current and former patients or employees of HMH are encouraged to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft by reviewing account statements and explanations of benefits for unusual activity and to report any suspicious activity promptly to your insurance company, health care provider, or financial institution. Additional detail can be found below in the Steps You Can Take to Help Protect Your Information and in the notification letters sent to affected individuals.
For More Information. If you have additional questions, please call a dedicated assistance line we have established at 1-833-570-2728, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM Central, Monday through Friday.
Monitor Your Accounts
Under U.S. law, a consumer is entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228. You may also directly contact the three major credit reporting bureaus listed below to request a free copy of your credit report.
Consumers have the right to place an initial or extended “fraud alert” on a credit file at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a one-year alert that is placed on a consumer’s credit file. Upon seeing a fraud alert display on a consumer’s credit file, a business is required to take steps to verify the consumer’s identity before extending new credit. If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which is a fraud alert lasting seven years. Should you wish to place a fraud alert, please contact any one of the three major credit reporting bureaus listed below.
As an alternative to a fraud alert, consumers have the right to place a “credit freeze” on a credit report, which will prohibit a credit bureau from releasing information in the credit report without the consumer’s express authorization. The credit freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. However, you should be aware that using a credit freeze to take control over who gets access to the personal and financial information in your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, or any other account involving the extension of credit. Pursuant to federal law, you cannot be charged to place or lift a credit freeze on your credit report. To request a security freeze, you will need to provide the following information:
Should you wish to place a fraud alert or credit freeze, please contact the three major credit reporting bureaus listed below:
Equifax Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 105069 Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
Experian Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Equifax Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
Experian Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 160, Woodlyn, PA 19094
You may further educate yourself regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, credit freezes, and the steps you can take to protect your personal information by contacting the consumer reporting bureaus, the Federal Trade Commission, or your state Attorney General. The Federal Trade Commission may be reached at: 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580; www.identitytheft.gov; 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); and TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The Federal Trade Commission also encourages those who discover that their information has been misused to file a complaint with them. You can obtain further information on how to file such a complaint by way of the contact information listed above. You have the right to file a police report if you ever experience identity theft or fraud. Please note that in order to file a report with law enforcement for identity theft, you will likely need to provide some proof that you have been a victim. Instances of known or suspected identity theft should also be reported to law enforcement and your state Attorney General. This notice has not been delayed by law enforcement.