Identity theft protection tips offered in wake of hospital data breach

ABILENE, Texas –

In light of the recent data breach of Community Health Systems, Abilene Regional Medical Center patients continue to raise concerns about their personal information being in the hands of strangers.

Four and a half million patients nationwide recently found out about their personal information, including social security numbers, being hacked between April and June of this year.

Abilene Regional Medical Center released this statement regarding the attack.

“We understand your concern about whether or not your personal identification information was included in the recent data breach affecting some physician clinics. If you were affected by this data breach, you will receive a letter from us over the next few days. That letter will contain an 800 number where you can get more information and enroll in free identify theft protection.”

Steve Abel, with the Abilene Better Business Bureau, offered a recommendation.

“Educate yourself, be aware, and keep an eye on things,” Abel said.

In light of the recent hack, Abel said those impacted should put a 90-day alert on their credit file so that they will be contacted and told of anything suspicious.

“Using a service to constantly monitor your activities online is not a bad idea if you’ve got lots of exposure,” said Abel.

Unfortunately, Abel said with the digital age we live in, data breaches seem to happen more often than not.

“It’s a terrible thing,” Abel said. “Unfortunately Americans are targets worldwide and American companies especially.”

Abel offered three tips on preventing identity theft:

1. Protect your social security number and don’t keep a physical copy where it can be stolen easily.

2. Be safe online by using long passwords and not using the same one for everything.

3. Check your credit history at least once a year, more if possible. Look out for anything out of the ordinary and reporting anything on bank statements that you don’t recognize.

Abel said if you are the victim of identity theft:

1. Request a 90-day alert on your credit information.

2. Contact the reporting company who notified you regarding the fraudulent charge.

3. Provide documentation to authorities proving that you were victimized.

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