Broward Health recently announced that personally identifiable information and protected health information more than 1.3 million patients were exposed in a data breach. Broward Health, which operates health facilities in Ft. Lauderdale and throughout Broward County, Florida, disclosed in January 2022 that highly sensitive personal and medical information belonging to its patients was accessed by unauthorized individuals prior to October 2021. The information accessed by the hackers in the data breach includes, but is not limited to, patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, financial information, insurance information, and medical information. Broward Health acknowledged that the hackers were able to exfiltrate the patients’ highly sensitive personal and medical information.
The exposure of personally identifiable information, especially names and Social Security numbers, poses a significant risk of identity theft, such as criminals opening financial accounts, taking out loans, filing fraudulent tax returns, and obtaining government services in the victim’s name. A data breach involving financial information permits thieves to make fraudulent purchases using the victim’s financial accounts. According to a recent FTC survey, the total cost of identity theft is nearly $50 billion per year, with victims losing an average of nearly $5,000 from the misuse of their personal and financial information. The exposure of protected medical information can pose an even greater danger of identity theft—such as obtaining medical services in the victim’s name, which will be charged to the victim.
Due to the data breach, patients of Broward Health have been exposed to a heightened risk of fraud and identity theft and must now closely monitor their financial accounts to guard against fraud. Broward Health patients might also incur out-of-pocket costs for purchasing credit monitoring services, credit freezes, credit reports, or other protective measures to deter and defect identity theft.
If you were a patient of Broward Health, or ever obtain medical services at a Broward Health location, and you received a letter from Broward notifying you of the data breach, or you believe that your personal, financial, or medical information information was exposed in the data breach, you may consider contacting an attorney. Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel has significant experience litigating data breach matters, and is here to help.