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Virginia Mason is working with federal and local law enforcement agencies in an investigation of a large, organized identity theft ring operating in the region. A piece of that investigation included two former VM staff members who allegedly accessed and used private patient information for illegal purposes, including bank fraud and identity theft. Law enforcement agencies believe the information was stolen intermittently between May 2005 and Sept. 17, 2006. This was a small part of a larger criminal identity theft ring.

Virginia Mason has contacted all the known patients whose identification may have been illegally accessed, and is providing them with identity theft restoration services. The investigation is ongoing and we don’t know if others will be identified.

If you feel you may be affected by this situation or want to learn more, the information below will help answer questions you may have.

General Questions:

What information was stolen?
Stolen information included name, address, Social Security number (SSN), phone number and in some cases doctors' names and patient insurance information.

Where did this happen?
Information was stolen from our Seattle Main Campus and the Sports Medicine Clinic. Other clinic locations are not affected.

Were my medical records stolen?
There is no evidence that medical treatment information was stolen.

How can thieves use my personal information?
The stolen information could potentially be used for identity theft and bank fraud.

Are there confirmed reports of VM patient information being used for fraud?
Law enforcement officials do believe the personal information stolen from VM has been used in part of a larger, criminal identity theft operation. Law enforcement officials have been in contact with affected patients.

How was my personal data available for the thieves to access?
There was illegal use of a security access card to steal patient information.

Am I affected?
The fact that some information was stolen does not mean that you are affected by identity theft or bank fraud. At this point in time, all patients whose names have been given to us by law enforcement have been contacted.

How do I detect identity theft?
Pay close attention to charges and withdrawals on bank and credit statements. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also recommends watching for:

  • Unexpected credit cards or account statements
  • Bills not arriving as expected
  • Denials of credit for no reason
  • Calls or letters about purchases you did not make

Visit the FTC online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ for more information.

How can I protect myself?
The following precautions can help limit improper use of your personal information:

  • Place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports to stop someone from opening new accounts in your name. Contact any of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies below:

Fraud alerts last 90 days. You may remove them at any time by contacting the credit bureaus. You may also reinstate the alerts after canceling.

  • Request a free credit report from one of the above companies, or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. It is prudent to wait about a month after your information was stolen, as suspicious activity may not appear immediately. Inspect for inquiries from companies you didn't contact, accounts you didn't open and unexplained debts. Also check that your SSN, address(s), name or initials, and employer information are correct.

Visit the FTC online for more information.
 
If You Are Affected by Identity Theft:
 
 How can I protect myself now?

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
  • Request a copy of your credit report and carefully inspect for unexplained activity.
  • Close accounts that have been tampered with or that were established fraudulently.
  • Contact law enforcement and file a police report. This will help with creditors who request proof that a crime was committed.
  • Report theft to the FTC online or call (877) ID-THEFT or (877) 438-4338.
  • You may want to use a credit monitoring service. Be careful to check any such service with the Better Business Bureau. These services often charge a monthly fee.

Visit the FTC online for more information.
 
How do I handle fraudulent charges and activity?
If the identity thief has made charges on existing accounts or opened new accounts in your name, file a fraud dispute form or write a letter detailing and disputing the fraudulent charges. If the company has reported these accounts or debts on your credit report, dispute this fraudulent information.

Once you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the creditor, request a letter confirming it has closed the disputed accounts and discharged the fraudulent activity. This is your proof of fraud in the event that errors reappear on your credit report or you are contacted again about fraudulent activity.

Visit the FTC online for more information.

How will Virginia Mason help me?
We have alerted all patients affected by this situation whose names have been given to us by law enforcement. If you have any questions or concerns about what happened or what to do, please call our Privacy Officer at (206) 223-7505.

Affected patients will receive information from Kroll, Inc., a credit restoration service, to help deal with this situation and guide you through protecting and restoring their credit.

How is VM preventing this from happening again?
We are thoroughly reviewing this event to determine ways to further safeguard our patients' information.

Who do I contact for more information?
If you have any questions or concerns about what happened or what to do, please call our Privacy Officer at (206) 223-7505.

How can I learn more about identity theft?
The FTC has a comprehensive online source of information and advice about handling identity theft at: www.consumer.gov/idtheft/

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