Protecting identity when privacy, HIPPA information are compromised



by Staff Sgt. Ashley D. Ishmon
17th Training Wing Legal Office


11/28/2011 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- On Sept. 14, a Science Applications International Corporation employee reported 12 computer backup tapes containing privacy and HIPPA-protected information were stolen from his personal vehicle in San Antonio. The individual was in the process of transporting the tapes to a storage facility as part of a routine procedure to save important data. This incident has affected an estimated 4.9 million military clinic and hospital patients in Texas.

Upon discovery of the theft, law enforcement and designated government agencies were notified. Specifically, they were notified that the information stolen contained names, social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, appointment information, diagnoses, treatment information, laboratory tests, radiology results, prescriptions, provider names, provider locations and other pertinent data, but not any financial data, such as credit card or bank account information.

According to SAIC, at this point there is no evidence the information contained on these backup files were accessed, viewed or used by others in any way. SAIC and TRICARE indicate that the chance of the information being obtained from the backup tapes is low since accessing, viewing and using the data requires specific hardware and software.

You, or someone you know, may have recently received a letter from SAIC informing you of this incident. The 17th Training Wing Legal Office has contacted TRICARE and SAIC, and confirmed that this is a legitimate letter and not a scam. In the letter, SAIC offers those members affected a free one-year membership in Kroll Inc.'s ID Theftsmart service.

According to SAIC, affected members have 12 months from the date of the letter was sent to sign up for this optional service. To sign up, members are asked to complete the authorization form included with the letter. Another option is visiting www.idintegrity.com.

SAIC stated this service provides access to:

Enhanced Identity Theft Consultation and Restoration
This is a service that makes licensed investigators, knowledgeable in identity theft issues, available to address your concerns. If your name and credit are affected by this incident, your investigator will work with you to help restore your identity to pre-theft status.

Continuous Credit Monitoring
This is a system that will make you aware of key changes in data from your Experian credit file that could indicate the kind of unauthorized activity commonly associated with identity theft and fraud.

If you have received a letter from SAIC, call the Incident Response Call Center listed in the letter at (855) 366-0140 to confirm and verify.

The 17th TRW does not and cannot vouch for the services offered by SAIC and Kroll Inc.'s ID Theftsmart, and this article should not be construed as official Air Force endorsement for these companies and their services. However, it is important that each member take proactive steps to scrutinize requests for personal information such as the letter from SAIC, and warn fellow wingmen of scams.

There are also steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft such as placing an active duty alert on your credit report. Doing so requires creditors to verify your identity before granting credit in your name. Active duty alerts are only effective for one year and can be placed by calling one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies:
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
You can also inspect your credit reports on a regular basis to detect any suspicious activities. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each company annually at www.annualcreditreport.com.

If you suspect identity theft, place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting one of the reporting companies above, close tampered accounts, file a police report, and report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Filing a police report also helps resolve issues and provides proof to creditors.

For more information on protecting yourself from identity theft, visit the FTC online at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/idtheft/idt04.shtm.

If you have legal questions or concerns, or if you need specific guidance to deal with suspected identity theft, call the legal office at (325) 654-3203.

(Editor's note: The 17th Training Wing does not and cannot vouch for the services offered by SAIC and Kroll Inc.'s ID Theftsmart, and this article should not be construed as official Air Force endorsement for these companies and their services.)