Story from Lincoln County Counsel Wayne Belmont
During the evening of April 17th, the North Lincoln County Community Health Center Clinic and surrounding offices in the same building, were broken into by an unknown person or persons. Locked doors, rooms and cabinets were forcibly entered. Money was taken from the clinic, but it appears no other records or materials were removed. No electronic devices were taken or accessed. However, the locked room which contains medical charts for our clients was breached.
These files contain protected health information and may also contain information such as social security numbers and personal financial information. Lincoln County has identified and notified the clients whose protected health information and personal information was in those files. In accordance with law and standard practices in these situations we are notifying clients of this breach of our security because this information potentially could be compromised.
The charts have been secured and security at the clinic is being enhanced. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that there was an attempt to obtain or use any protected health or personal information, but there is always some risk in these situations, so Lincoln County is contacting the three major credit reporting agencies about the incident and has given those agencies a general report, alerting them to the fact that the incident occurred.
Clients were given a recommendation to monitor their financial accounts and promptly contact the financial institution if any unauthorized activity is observed. Clients can also submit an identity theft complaint to the Federal Trade Commission by calling toll free to 1-877-ID THEFT (1-877-438-4338 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
Clients may also want to contact the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to obtain a free credit report from each by calling 1-877-322-8228 or online at www.annualcreditreport.com. Even if suspicious activity is not found on initial credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that credit reports be checked periodically.
Consumer protection laws allow people to place a security freeze or a fraud alert on their credit files. By placing a freeze, someone who fraudulently acquires personal identifying information will not be able to use the information to open new accounts or borrow money in another person’s name. An alert places a statement in the credit file that notifies anyone requesting a copy of the credit report that the person may be the victim of an ID theft. Generally, if an identity theft complaint is filed with the FTC as outlined above, there may be no charge to place the freeze. If, however, any client involved in this incident is charged and pays a cost from the credit reporting agency associated with this option, they can contact the county at the address below and provide documentation of payment to be reimbursed.
Lincoln County will provide additional information concerning identity theft on its website at www.co.lincoln.or.us.
Lincoln County takes the role of safeguarding the personal information of clients very seriously and is doing everything it can to prevent this situation in the future.
For more information concerning this notice contact:
Lincoln County Health and Human Services
36 SW Nye Street
Newport, Oregon 97365
Media may make further inquiries:
Lincoln County Counsel’s Office
225 W. Olive Room 110