Atrium Health was hit with a data breach that affected 2.65 million people, where hackers possibly gained access to their non-medical data—including addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers.
Atrium Health is a non-profit healthcare and wellness program provider based in Charlotte, North Carolina, that operates 44 hospitals across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. It was previously called Carolinas HealthCare System.
Hackers tried to copy and transfer patients’ personal non-medical information from Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 from Atrium Health’s databases hosted by vendor AccuDoc Solutions, a joint Nov. 27 announcement by Atrium Health and AccuDoc said.
AccuDoc, based in Morrisville, North Carolina, provides billing and related services to healthcare providers, like enabling patients to make payments online. The company serves Atrium as well as about 50 other hospitals and healthcare providers.
The compromised information includes names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, insurance policy information, account balances, and dates of service.
About 700,000 of the 2.65 million records had social security numbers in them, Atrium said, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Atrium said that its own system, which stores bank account details, debit and credit card numbers, and medical records, is separate from the AccuDoc database and therefore were not affected by the breach.
AccuDoc immediately informed Atrium Health and stopped the unauthorized access when it discovered the breach on Oct. 1. They have since secured the affected databases and enhanced security measures.
Both AccuDoc and Atrium Health hired forensic investigators to independently review the breach and have also consulted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Investigations show that the information was accessed and viewed but there was no evidence that the information was downloaded or distributed to other channels.
“We are notifying the patients and guarantors who may have been impacted by this incident. We take cybersecurity very seriously, and we’ve worked very hard to determine exactly what happened, and how to prevent it from happening again,” Chris Berger, AVP of Corporate Communications for Atrium said in a statement.
“The fact that even one record was accessed is one too many. Our patients expect us to keep all of their information private, which is why we took action so quickly.”
What Patients Should Do
“Individuals should monitor their account statements, bills, notices, and insurance transactions for incidents of unauthorized activity, and contact Atrium Health with any questions or concerns,” the joint statement said. “Atrium Health is offering credit monitoring to those whose Social Security numbers were potentially accessed.”
Patients should report any questionable charges to the provider’s billing office or insurance company.
They are also encouraged to order a free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com or from calling the toll-free number 877-322-8228.
Alternatively, they can fill in a Annual Credit Report Request Form at www.ftc.gov and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Thereafter, patients are encouraged to review their credit report carefully.
“Upon receiving your credit report, review it carefully. Errors may be a warning sign of possible identity theft. If you see anything you do not understand, call the credit bureau at the telephone number on the report,” the joint statement said.
“If there are accounts or charges you did not authorize, immediately notify the appropriate credit bureau by telephone and in writing. Information that cannot be explained should also be reported to your local police or sheriff’s office because it may signal criminal activity.”
Atrium and AccuDoc also recommended that those affected by the breach should call a toll-free number at 1-833-228-5726 and visit a website at www.krollfraudsolutions.com/accudocincident to ask questions and learn more about the incident. The toll-free number is open for at least 90 days and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.