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800,000 Doctors Warned Personal Data Stolen

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, October 15, 2009 5:02 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Identity Theft, Social Security Numbers, Data Theft

Data on more than 800,000 physicians was stolen when someone swiped a laptop from a parked car.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Blue Cross Blue Shield Web site

Missing Laptop

Blue Cross and Blue Shield says a laptop was stolen from a Chicago parking lot.

It is warning just about every doctor in the country that this was a special laptop. It contained personal information about 800,000 doctors, representing nearly every physician in the country, reports the Chicago Tribune.

This was strictly doctor’s information, not patient information.

But the information could be damaging for the physicians because it includes the social security numbers of more than 100,000 doctors, reports the Wall Street Journal. Also included were their addresses along with other information such as medical-care provider identification, putting them at risk of identity theft.

So far there have been no reports of identity theft since the August heist.

"At this point, we have no evidence that the data was misused," said Jeff Smokler, spokesman for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. "We think this was a random criminal act. Regardless, we take these kinds of breaches extremely seriously and so we are alerting all doctors in the database."

Most seriously hurt may be doctors in Massachusetts reports the Boston Globe, because they typically use their Social Security number as their tax-identification number.

In a departure from company protocol, the laptop was left in a car in a parking lot. The Chicago Tribune reports that several other cars were vandalized so the thief likely wasn’t looking for data. No doubt the employee who broke protocol by storing company information on a personal laptop wished he hadn’t.

Blue Cross Blue and Blue Shield Association is a Chicago-based trade group representing the nation’s Blue Cross Health Insurance Plans that provides health coverage for about 100 million Americans.

Doctors whose social security numbers were stolen are being offered credit monitoring services. #


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