Businesses of all types need to protect data

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The computer data breaches with retailers such as Tar­get, Neiman Marcus and Michaels have gotten plenty of head­lines.

But our private information is vul­nerable in many places beyond the checkout line.

The Identity Theft Resource Cen­ter reported 619 data breaches for 2013, up 30 percent from the number in 2012. For the first time since the center began tracking these prob­lems in 2005, the health-care sec­tor reported the largest number of incidents, accounting for 43 percent of the breaches, compared with 33 percent from businesses.

Certainly one of the reasons is that health-care organizations often face mandatory reporting requirements.

But another reason is that our “medical identity” — name, Social Security number and health insur­ance number — can have so many lucrative uses.

For example, an Ohio dental office employee accessed protected Med­icaid patient information to then illegally obtain prescription drugs, according to a recent report by the Stateline News Service. Using anoth­er angle, a Massachusetts psychia­trist used records to create false diag­noses and submit medical insurance claims for people he never treated.

In some cases, people stole medical identities to receive treatment.

“Medical identity theft is a grow­ing and dangerous crime that leaves its victims with little to no recourse for recovery,” Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum told Stateline…

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