Sunday, September 23, 2007

8,000 Patients at Risk of Identity Theft

A temp worker of Texas Health Resources, based in Arlington, Texas steals the identity of 8,000 patients. The temp had been working in the THR Dallas business office since May 2007. Over the past 5 months, this worker was pilfering patient identities. On September 5, THR's compliance hotline was notified of a patient's unauthorized use of their credit card. As a result of further investigation, Garland police arrested the alleged identity thief, identified as Kristina Renee Garcia, 31, of Garland. Garcia has been charged with two counts of credit card abuse, one count of forgery and one count of fraudulent use/possession of identifying information, according to police.

THR should be commended for their quick action in this case. Within 24 hours, police were notified of the breach and Garcia was escorted from the THR facility and placed under arrest. In addition, all patients which may have been effected were sent notices.

Elaine Anderson, senior vice president and chief compliance officer for THR, stated, "At this time, we do believe that this is an isolated incident," she added. "We are reviewing everything. If we find opportunities to strengthen our processes we will obviously do so. We believe we have strong processes in place. We take the safeguarding of our patient information as one of our highest priorities."

Texas Health Resources is a non-profit health care company. Its system includes 13 affiliated hospitals including Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Identity Theft Is a Major Life Event and Legal Resources are a Daily Need

Let’s face it, if anyone in this country faces a major medical emergency and they go to an emergency room, they will get the help they need – even without health insurance. However, if anyone in this country has their identity stolen – driver’s license, social security number, medical insurance information, or character – this major life event is not something that can be “passed on” to other taxpayer’s for resolve. Identity theft protection, like auto insurance, is not something employees can live without. A preventative solution not only provides economic value to the employee, but most importantly, it provides an affordable way to obtain a service that would otherwise be too expensive at the individual rate. Hence, good business practices which incorporate benefits that cost businesses absolutely nothing to provide, but create tremendous value for the employee, help attract and retain quality employees. In addition, these services may help prevent companies from defensive losses by way of notice and acknowledgment of a breach, if several employees are notified in real-time of an attempted attack on their identities, helping to discover where the breach originated and proactively closing the gap on the loophole.

In a country where our children are taught to recite and believe in a mantra that ends in, “liberty and justice for all”, it’s a shame that as adults, 90% of us cannot afford to retain a lawyer, making it almost impossible for employees to feel like they deserve justice in their everyday lives – having a will, resolving a debt that isn’t theirs, signing contracts, being bullied by landlords, debt collectors, merchants, and the list goes on. Access to legal services empowers employees to make better, smarter decisions, thereby making better, smarter workers.

For companies, it’s cost-effective, lowers the overall liability of the business, and dramatically reduces non-productivity when employees don’t need to take off of work for identity theft/legal related issues. So remember, life matters – value your employees.