GARY, Ind., Oct. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Methodist Hospitals, Inc. ("Methodist") recently learned of an incident that may affect the privacy of certain information and is providing notice of the event so that individuals may take steps to protect their personal information, should they feel it appropriate to do so. To date, Methodist has not received any reports that personal information has been misused as a result of this incident.
In June 2019, Methodist learned of unusual activity in an employee's email account. Methodist immediately commenced an investigation, working with third-party forensic investigators, to assess the nature and scope of the email account activity. On August 7, 2019, the forensic investigation determined that two (2) Methodist employees fell victim to an email phishing scheme that allowed an unauthorized actor to gain access to their email accounts. The investigation determined that one account was subject to unauthorized access on June 12 and from July 1 to July 8, 2019 and that the other account was subject to unauthorized access from March 13 to June 12, 2019. While Methodist has no evidence of actual or attempted misuse of any information present in the email accounts, the investigation could not rule out the possibility of access to data present in the accounts. In an abundance of caution, Methodist undertook a comprehensive review of the data present in the accounts to confirm what records may be present. Through the investigation, Methodist determined that, while the information that may have been present in the relevant email accounts varies by individual, it may include: name, address, health insurance subscriber, group, and/or plan number, group identification number, Social Security number, driver's license/state identification number, passport number, financial account number, payment card information, electronic signature, username and password, date of birth, medical record number, CSN number, HAR number, Medicare/Medicaid number, and medical treatment/diagnosis information.
Methodist takes this incident and the security of personal information in its care very seriously. Upon learning of this incident, Methodist immediately took steps to ensure the security of its email environment and to investigate the activity. Methodist conducted a comprehensive review to identify the individuals whose information was present in the relevant email accounts and is in the process of notifying those individuals of the incident to provide them with further information regarding this incident. Methodist is also reviewing its existing policies and procedures and has reported this incident to relevant state and federal regulators, as required.
On October 4, 2019, Methodist began mailing notice letters to individuals whose information may have been present in the affected email accounts. More information on resources and steps individuals may take to protect their personal information is being provided in the letter mailed to the home address of those individuals whose information may be affected by this incident. Methodist also is encouraging individuals to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review account statements, and to monitor credit reports and explanation of benefits forms for suspicious activity. Methodist's notification to individuals includes information on obtaining a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com, calling 877-322-8228, or contacting the three major credit bureaus directly at: Equifax, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA, 30348, 800-525-6285, www.equifax.com; Experian, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013, 888-397-3742, www.experian.com; TransUnion, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, 800-680-7289, www.transunion.com. Individuals may also find information regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, security freezes and the steps they may take to protect their information by contacting the credit bureaus, the Federal Trade Commission or their state Attorney General. The Federal Trade Commission can 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. Instances of known or suspected identity theft should also be reported to law enforcement or the individual's state Attorney General. Methodist has provided notice of this incident to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as required state regulators.
Methodist has established a dedicated for individuals seeking more information on this incident or steps they may take to protect their personal information. The call center may be reached at 855-913-0610 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Central Time (excluding some U.S. national holidays). More information is also available on Methodist's website at https://www.methodisthospitals.org/ or below in the "Steps Individuals Can Take to Protect Personal Information."
Steps Individuals Can Take to Protect Personal Information
Under U.S. law, adults are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228. You may also contact the three major credit bureaus directly to request a free copy of your credit report.
Adults have the right to place a "security freeze" on a credit report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing information in a credit report without express authorization. The security 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 security 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 security freeze on your credit report. Should you wish to place a security freeze, please contact the major consumer reporting agencies listed below:
In order to request a security freeze, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.);
- Social Security number;
- Date of birth;
- If you have moved in the past five (5) years, provide the addresses where you have lived over the prior five years;
- Proof of current address, such as a current utility bill or telephone bill;
- A legible photocopy of a government-issued identification card (state driver's license or ID card, military identification, etc.);
- If you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft.
As an alternative to a security freeze, adults have the right to place an initial or extended "fraud alert" on a file at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a 1-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 agencies listed below:
You can further educate yourself regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, security freezes, and the steps you can take to protect yourself, by contacting the consumer reporting agencies, the Federal Trade Commission, or your state Attorney General. The Federal Trade Commission can be reached at: 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580; www.identitytheft.gov; 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); or 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.
For North Carolina residents, the Attorney General may be contacted at: 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001; 1-877-566-7226 or 1-919-716-6400; or www.ncdoj.gov.
For Maryland residents, the Attorney General may be contacted at: 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202; 1-888-743-0023; or www.oag.state.md.us.
For New Mexico residents, you have rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, such as the right to be told if information in your credit file has been used against you, the right to know what is in your credit file, the right to ask for your credit score, and the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. Further, pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information; consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information; access to your file is limited; you must give your consent for credit reports to be provided to employers; you may limit "prescreened" offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report; and you may seek damages from violators. You may have additional rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act not summarized here. Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have specific additional rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. We encourage you to review your rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act by visiting www.consumerfinance.gov/f/201504_cfpb_summary_your-rights-under-fcra.pdf, or by writing Consumer Response Center, Room 130-A, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
For Rhode Island Residents, the Rhode Island Attorney General may be reached at: 150 South Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903; www.riag.ri.gov; or 1-401-274-4400. Under Rhode Island law, you have the right to obtain any police report filed in regard to this incident. There are approximately two (2) Rhode Island residents whose information may have been present in the relevant emails.