Tuesday, May 28, 2019

MOHC Reports Data Breach - Way Outside of HIPAA Timeline

 



I hate to throw anyone, especially someone in healthcare, under the bus.  However, sometimes it’s necessary to prove a bigger point to the rest of my readership.  My blog hits continue to increase monthly and I feel a responsibility to all of you to provide the best information and recommendations possible.

Recently Medical Oncology Hematology Consultants in Newark, NJ began sending letters to patients of record to inform them of a data breach.  The  problem here isn’t that there was a data breach, unfortunately all we can do is be vigilant to try and stop them, no the real problem with this breach was that it took them an entire year to notify those affected.  That is unacceptable according to federal law and also a fairly big ethical problem as well.

You see, according to HIPAA standards (which are federal law) a data breach must me reported within 60 days of the breach discovery.  Even if you don’t have all the answers, healthcare organizations only have 60 days to report.  Failing to do so can create a PR nightmare as well as trigger serious fines from DHS (Department of Health and Human Services.

Here is information that was recently provided to patients who were affected by the breach:

DATA INCIDENT NOTIFICATION
Medical Oncology Hematology Consultants, P.A. (“the Practice”) was victimized by a cyber attack (the “Incident”)
that impacted a Practice email account. On March 14, 2019, the Practice, through its extensive investigation of the
Incident, determined that personal health information (“PHI”) and/or personally identifiable information (“PII”)
relating to you may have been subject to unauthorized access or acquisition as a result of the Incident.

We commenced the foregoing investigation immediately upon learning of the Incident for the purpose of
determining its scope, the impact on our information systems, and the identities of those potentially affected. We
engaged third party experts to assist us with our investigation and, during that investigation, coordinated extensively
with the third party that hosts our email environment. Through our investigation, we determined that the attack
occurred on or about June 7 and June 8, 2018. We have not found any evidence that your information was misused
as a result of the Incident.

What Information Was Involved

The personal information subject to this incident may have included your name, health information, medical
information, dates of birth, Social Security Number, government issued identification number, and/or financial
account information.

What We Are Doing

The Practice is providing notice to potentially affected individuals so that they can take steps to minimize the risk
that their information will be misused. As an added precaution, the Practice has arranged for TransUnion to provide
potentially affected individuals 12 months of free credit monitoring and related services. To find out whether you
were among those whose information was potentially affected, please contact (855) 424-2585, Monday through
Friday, from 9 am to 9 pm Eastern Time (except holidays).

The Practice treats all sensitive information in a confidential manner and is proactive in the careful handling of such
information. Since learning of the attack, the Practice has taken a number of steps to further secure its systems.
Specifically, it has, among other things: established a new portal for delivery of secure emails from external sources;
implemented malware blocking measures; facilitated suspicious email reporting; established notifications to alert
users that they may be attempting to send un-encrypted sensitive data; facilitated encryption of outgoing emails; and
provided additional data security training. Further, the Practice will soon implement multi-factor authentication and
take additional steps to bolster its email phishing defenses.

What You Can Do

In addition to enrolling in the free credit monitoring and related services mentioned above, we recommend that you
remain vigilant and take the following steps to protect your personal information:

1. Contact the nationwide credit-reporting agencies as soon as possible to:

Add a fraud alert statement to your credit file at all three national credit-reporting agencies: Equifax,
Experian, and TransUnion. You only need to contact one of the three agencies listed below; your
request will be shared with the other two agencies. This fraud alert will remain on your credit file for
90 days.
You can also receive information from these agencies about avoiding identity theft, such as by placing
a “security freeze” on your credit accounts.
Remove your name from mailing lists of pre-approved offers of credit for approximately six months.
Receive and carefully review a free copy of your credit report by going to
www.annualcreditreport.com.
Equifax
P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374 (800) 525-6285 www.equifax.com
Experian
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
(888) 397-3742 www.experian.com/consumer
TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19022 (800) 888-4213 www.transunion.com
Carefully review all bills and credit card statements you receive to see if there are items you did not
contract for or purchase. Also review all of your bank account statements frequently for checks, purchases,
or deductions not made by you. Note that even if you do not find suspicious activity initially, you should
continue to check this information periodically since identity thieves sometimes hold on to stolen personal
information before using it.
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) offers consumer assistance and educational materials relating to
identity theft, privacy issues, and how to avoid identity theft, such as by setting up fraud alerts or placing a
“security freeze” on your credit accounts. The FTC can be contacted either by visiting www.ftc.gov,
www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling (877) 438-4338. If you suspect or know that you are the victim
of identity theft, you should contact local law enforcement, and you can also contact the Fraud Department
of the FTC, which will collect all information and make it available to law enforcement agencies. The FTC
can be contacted at the website or phone number above, or at the mailing address below:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20580
Maryland Residents: To obtain additional information about avoiding identity theft, please contact the
Maryland Attorney General’s Office, using the contact information below:

Maryland Attorney General’s Office
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 576-6300
Toll-Free (in Maryland): (888) 743-0023
Website: https://www.oag.state.md.us/contact.htm
For More Information

If you have questions or concerns, please contact (855) 424-2585, Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 9 pm
Eastern Time (except holidays). We sincerely apologize for this situation and any inconvenience it may cause you.

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