BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Pathways Professional Counseling is notifying affected patients of a data security incident that may affect the security of their protected health information. Pathways Professional Counseling and investigating authorities are unaware of any attempted or actual misuse of patients' protected health information. Pathways Professional Counseling is providing notification to ensure that patients are aware of the incident so that they may take steps to protect their information should they feel it is appropriate to do so. Pathways Professional Counseling is providing one free year of identity monitoring and identity restoration services to affected individuals.
On September 24, 2015, a Pathways Professional Counseling employee had his Pathways Professional Counseling-issued laptop stolen from his vehicle. The laptop was password protected at the time of the theft. The theft of the laptop was discovered on September 25, 2015, and immediately reported to local law enforcement. This notice has not been delayed at the request of law enforcement. However, law enforcement is actively investigating this matter and Pathways Professional Counseling is cooperating in the ongoing criminal investigation. To date, there have been no arrests relating to the theft nor has the laptop been recovered.
Pathways Professional Counseling takes the security of information within its care very seriously. The employee reported the theft to Pathways Professional Counseling on September 25, 2015, and Pathways Professional Counseling immediately launched an investigation to determine the precise contents of the laptop, at the time of the theft. Pathways Professional Counseling also terminated the laptop's network connection capabilities, changed the employee's access credentials, and confirmed that our network systems were not accessed by the laptop since the employee's last valid access the afternoon before the laptop was stolen. To assist in our investigation, Pathways Professional Counseling engaged independent third-party forensics experts to confirm the nature and scope of this incident.
While the investigations into this data security event are ongoing, Pathways Professional Counseling determined the security of some personal and protected health information relating to certain service recipients of Pathways Professional Counseling has been affected. The affected information includes an individual's name combined with one or more of the following data elements: Social Security number, date of birth, address, treating physician name, diagnosis and clinical information, phone number, email address, demographic information, financial information, health insurance information, treatment information, and medication information.
Affected individuals for whom Pathways Professional Counseling has a valid postal address will be notified of this incident through U.S. mail. Information contained in the notice letter will also be available at http://www.pathwaysprofessional.org/. Pathways Professional Counseling is also disclosing this incident to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Identity Protection Services
As the investigations continue, and out of an abundance of caution, Pathways Professional Counseling is offering affected individuals access to a one-year membership to identity protection services, at no cost to the affected individuals. Notification letters to affected individuals contain enrollment instructions for these services.
Fraud Prevention Tips
Pathways Professional Counseling encourages affected individuals to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud and seek to protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss by regularly reviewing their financial account statements for any charges they did not make. Pathways Professional Counseling also encourages affected individuals to notify their credit card companies, health care providers, and health care insurers of this data security event. Affected individuals may also regularly review the explanation of benefits statement(s) that they receive from their health care provider or health plan. If you are affected by this incident and see any service that you believe you did not receive, you should contact your health care provider or health plan at the telephone number listed on the explanation of benefits statements. If you do not receive regular explanation of benefits statements, contact your health care provider or health plan and ask that they send you a copy after each visit you make to your health care provider.
Pathways Professional Counseling suggests that affected individuals carefully review their credit reports. Under U.S. law, you are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To obtain a free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, or call, toll-free, (877) 322-8228. You may also contact the three major credit bureaus directly to request a free copy of your credit report. When you receive your credit reports, you should review them carefully. Look for accounts you did not open as well as inquiries from creditors that you did not initiate. Also, you should look for personal information that is not accurate, such as home address or Social Security Number. If you see anything on the report that you do not understand, call the credit reporting agency at the telephone number on the report. If you find suspicious activity on your credit reports, call your local police or sheriff's office and file a police report of identity theft. You should ask for a copy of the police report, as you may need to give copies of the police report to creditors to clear your records. Even if you do not find any signs of fraud on your reports, we recommend that you check your credit reports periodically.
At no charge, affected individuals can also have these credit bureaus place a "fraud alert" on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. Please note, however, that because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect an individual's credit, it may also delay the ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies the individual's identity. As soon as one credit bureau confirms a fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts on an individual's file. If you wish to place a fraud alert, or you have questions regarding your credit report, you can contact any one of the following agencies:
Affected individuals may also place a security freeze on their credit reports. A security freeze prohibits a credit bureau from releasing any information from a consumer's credit report without the consumer's written authorization. However, please be advised that placing a security freeze on your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prevent the timely approval of any requests you make for new loans, credit mortgages, employment, housing or other services.
If an affected individual has been a victim of identity theft, and provides the credit bureau with a valid police report, he or she will not be charged to place, lift or remove a security freeze. In other cases, a credit bureau may charge you a fee to place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a security freeze. Individuals will need to place a security freeze separately with each of the three major credit bureaus listed above if you wish to place the freeze on all of your credit files.
For more information on how to place a security freeze, affected individuals may use the following contact information:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
(NY residents please call
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Affected individuals can further educate themselves regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, security freezes, and the steps you can take to protect themselves, by contacting your state Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC also encourages those who discover that their information has been misused to file a complaint with them. The FTC can be reached at: 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580; www.ftc.gov/idtheft; 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); and TTY: 1-866-653-4261. You should also report known or suspected identity theft to your state Attorney General or local law enforcement. Your state Attorney General may have advice on preventing identity theft. You can also learn more about placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit files by contacting the FTC or your state Attorney General.
To better assist those who may potentially have been affected by this data privacy event, Pathways Professional Counseling has established a confidential, toll-free hotline to answer questions. The hotline is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. C.S.T. at (855) 770-0003. Please reference number 9538103015 when contacting the hotline.
SOURCE Pathways Professional Counseling