If you are a resident of South Carolina, you may have gotten a less-than-festive letter in your mailbox on Christmas morning, as it was reported that more than 3,500 names and Social Security numbers had been stolen from a briefcase belonging to a state auditor. What’s most disturbing about this is the fact that the crime took place back in October, yet those who were affected by the crime didn’t find out until just before the holidays.
The Social Security numbers were attached to residents who were part of the South Carolina Health Insurance Pool, a program that provides coverage for individuals who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. This means that folks who were already vulnerable financially could potentially be made victims of identity theft right in the middle of one of the most expensive seasons of the year.
“We’ve had a lot of problems with identity theft, just as you have in banks or anywhere else. It occurs in health care,” said Becky Carter, who oversees how patient data is collected and stored at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville, South Carolina, in a story from the local NBC affiliate WSAV. “People lie, unfortunately, because they want something for free.”
Many residents were outraged to find out that auditors even had access to their Social Security numbers in the first place, and were surprised to find out that the same issues that plague creditors and banks is an issue for health care providers as well.
You never want to take chances with your identity, so consider investing into identity theft services to monitoring certain activity taking place in your name.