Data Breach

CVS Caremark pharmacy chain agrees to pay $2.25 million to settle charges of HIPAA violations; also settles with the FTC

Medical privacy | HIPAA | FTC — According to a legal complaint, CVS pharmacies — the largest pharmacy chain in the United States — did not take appropriate steps to protect its customers’ and employees’ sensitive information when it improperly disposed of documents, labels, prescription bottles, and other items with clearly identifiable and highly sensitive personal information such as SSNs, prescription information, driver’s license numbers, and other information still on those materials. CVS agreed to pay $2.25 million to settle its violations of HIPAA as part of a Resolution Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. CVS has also signed a consent agreement with the FTC; the public can comment on this agreement until March 20, 2009. The World Privacy Forum will be filing comments with the FTC on the consent agreement with CVS, which we will post here.

Consumer Alert: Monster.com announces another big data breach

Monster.com | Consumer Alert | Job search privacy — According to the job site Monster.com, its users’ IDs and passwords, email addresses, names, phone numbers, and some “basic demographic data” were compromised in a data breach. Monster notified victims of the security breach through its web site on Friday, January 23, 2009. It is unclear how many people this notice impacts, as Monster.com did not give an estimate. In press reports, however, Monster has admitted that the breach is global, with Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe being spared. Job seekers’ information can be used like a road map for criminal ventures, including identity theft, phishing and spamming. User passwords, which Monster.com says were compromised in this breach, are especially valuable as they can potentially be used to access other sites or email accounts, especially if a person regularly uses the same passwords. The World Privacy Forum has published a consumer alert about this data breach with tips for victims. This data breach also impacts USAjobs.com, the government job search site affiliated wiith Monster.com.

Pam Dixon’s keynote speech on medical identity theft at the AHIMA National Convention

Medical identity theft is a crime that harms people and it is a crime that hides itself. This combination makes medical identity theft an insidious crime. It can cause extraordinary damages and harms to its individual and institutional victims. And once begun, the harmful effects of this crime can linger in the lives of its victims for years or even decades.

Update: Monster.com saying data breach may impact all users of Monster.com, official Federal job site USAJobs.com impacted

Consumer alert update — Monster.com posted a warning on its site stating that all users of Monster.com may have been impacted by the data breach of its systems by hackers. All job seekers need to be aware of potential phishing attacks that are sophisticated and highly targeted, and job seekers with safety considerations need to be aware that their information has likely been compromised. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has announced that the Federal job site USAJobs (which is outsourced to Monster.com) has also been impacted by the breach. The World Privacy Forum has updated its job seeking tips, and its consumer alert.