Sandhills Center provides notice of potential data theft
Publication Date: October 14, 2021
Originally posted Sept. 3, 2021
Sandhills Center announced today that it has notified four patients of suspicious criminal activity relating to the potential exposure of protected health information (PHI). Sandhills Center cannot confirm any information in its systems was subject to unauthorized access.
On or about July 21, 2021, an anonymous criminal contacted Sandhills Center claiming to be in possession of stolen data, including PHI, from Sandhills Center’s system, and attempting to extort Sandhills Center for monetary payment. Sandhills Center promptly reported the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and launched an investigation into the nature and scope of the alleged data theft.
Subsequently, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services received an email from a second unknown individual attaching records containing PHI for four individuals. Sandhills Center’s investigation has been inconclusive; however, Sandhills Center has confirmed that the records were maintained by Sandhills Center, as well as a number of other entities. As such, Sandhills Center has provided written notification to the four impacted individuals and is providing this public notice of the criminal threats in an abundance of caution.
What Information Was Involved?
Sandhills Center is aware that an unknown individual has sent the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services copies of medical records containing medical diagnosis/treatment information for four individuals, which documents are in the possession of Sandhills Center, as well as other medical providers and/or regulatory authorities. More broadly speaking, Sandhills Center maintains documents containing medical diagnosis/treatment information for patients; however, Sandhills Center is unaware of any evidence suggesting those documents were accessed or acquired.
What Sandhills Center is Doing
Following its investigation, Sandhills Center has taken steps to further secure its environment and is reviewing existing policies and procedures and implementing additional safeguards to further secure the information in its systems. Although Sandhills Center cannot confirm whether any information in its systems was subject to unauthorized access, Sandhills Center takes these matters extremely seriously and, therefore, is providing this public notice in an abundance of caution and after consulting with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
What Potentially Affected Individuals Can Do
Sandhills Center encourages all patients, and all residents of North Carolina, to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud by reviewing your account statements and monitoring your free credit reports for suspicious activity, and to detect errors. If you have additional questions or concerns, please call 1-888-397-0042, between 9:00 a.m. EST and 5:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, and between 11:00 a.m. EST and 3:00 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday (excluding major U.S. holidays). Please reference Engagement Number BO18211.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Information – 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 http://www.annualcreditreport.com or call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228.
You also may 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:
- Full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.);
- Social Security number;
- Date of birth;
- Addresses for the prior two to 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, etc.); and
- A copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft if you are a victim of identity theft.
Should you wish to place a credit freeze, please contact the three major credit reporting bureaus:
Equifax Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 105069 Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
Equifax Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
Experian Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
Experian Credit Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Fraud Alert, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
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.