Recently, Chelan Douglas Health District confirmed that the District experienced a data security incident resulting in the personal and identifying information of as many as 108,906 residents.
If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the Chelan-Douglas Health District data breach on behalf of people whose information was exposed. As a part of this investigation, we are providing free consultations to anyone affected by the breach who is interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and what their legal options may be to obtain compensation from Chelan-Douglas Health District.
Last year, 1,862 data breaches affected more than 189 million people. On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and over $1,300 recovering their identity. Many victims also suffer emotional distress, credit damage, and may even end up with a criminal record. Taking immediate action is the best way to prevent the worst consequences of a data breach.
What We Know So Far About the Chelan-Douglas Health District Data Breach
According to a letter drafted by the District’s attorneys, Chelan Douglas Health District recently learned that an unauthorized party gained access to the District’s computer network between the dates of July 2 and July 4, 2021. The District launched an investigation to learn more about the nature of the incident, as well as whether any consumer information was compromised as a result.
On February 12, 2022, the Chelan Douglas Health District determined that the certain information was removed from the District’s network by an unauthorized party. While the compromised information varies by consumer, it may include your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, financial account information, medical information, and health insurance policy information.
Around March 15, 2022, Chelan-Douglas Health District began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident. Notices were sent out to as many as 108,906 residents. The population of Chelan and Douglas counties is approximately 110,000, illustrating the extent of the recent breach.
Chelan-Douglas Health District is the government entity charged with overseeing the health and wellness of residents of Chelan and Douglas counties, in Washington State. This District focuses on disease prevention, environmental health, community and family health, and emergency preparedness.
More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches
Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to an organization’s computer systems with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted CDHD, it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those organizations believed to have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.
Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove any data stored on the compromised servers. While in most cases an organization experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for it to tell which files the hacker actually accessed or whether they removed any data.
While the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes, being the victim of a data breach puts your sensitive data in the hands of an unauthorized person. As a result, you are at an increased risk of identity theft and other frauds, and criminal use of your information is a possibility that should not be ignored.
Given this reality, individuals who receive a Chelan-Douglas Health District data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Organizations like CDHD are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that CDHD failed to adequately protect your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.
What Are Consumers’ Remedies in the Wake of the CDHD Data Breach?
Customers trusted CDHD with their personal information. And they assumed that the organization would take their privacy concerns seriously. It goes without saying that consumers would think twice before giving any organization access to their information if they knew it wasn’t going to be secure. Thus, data breaches such as this one raise questions about the adequacy of an organization’s data security system.
When a business, government entity, non-profit organization, school, or any other organization accepts and stores consumer data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow consumers to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.
Of course, given the recency of the Chelan-Douglas Health District data breach, the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages. And, as of right now, there is not yet any evidence suggesting CDHD is legally responsible for the breach. However, that could change as additional information about the breach and its causes is revealed.
If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against Chelan-Douglas Health District, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive a Chelan-Douglas Health District Data Breach Notification?
If Chelan-Douglas Health District sends you a data breach notification letter, you are among those whose information was compromised in the recent breach. While this isn’t a time to panic, the situation warrants your attention. Below are a few important steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and other fraudulent activity:
Identify What Information Was Compromised: The first thing to do after learning of a data breach is to carefully review the data breach letter sent. The letter will tell you what information of yours was accessible to the unauthorized party. Be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records. If you have trouble understanding the letter or what steps you can take to protect yourself, a data breach lawyer can help.
Limit Future Access to Your Accounts: Once you determine what information of yours was affected by the breach, the safest play is to assume that the hacker orchestrating the attack stole your data. While this may not be the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent future access to your accounts, you should change all passwords and security questions for any online account. This includes online banking accounts, credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and any other account containing your personal information. You should also consider changing your social media account passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication where it is available.
Protect Your Credit and Your Financial Accounts: After a data breach, companies often provide affected parties with free credit monitoring services. Signing up for the free credit monitoring offers some significant protections and doesn’t impact any of your rights to pursue a data breach lawsuit against the company if it turns out they were legally responsible for the breach. You should contact a credit bureau to request a copy of your credit report—even if you do not notice any signs of fraud or unauthorized activity. Adding a fraud alert to your account will provide you with additional protection.
Consider Implementing a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report. Credit freezes are free and stay in effect until you remove them. Once a credit freeze is in place, you can temporarily lift the freeze if you need to apply for any type of credit. While placing a credit freeze on your accounts may seem like overkill, given the risks involved, it’s justified. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), placing a credit freeze on your account is the “single most effective way to prevent a new credit/financial account from being opened.” However, just 3% of data breach victims place a freeze on their accounts.
Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Accounts: Protecting yourself in the wake of a data breach requires an ongoing effort on your part. You should regularly check your credit report and all financial account statements, looking for any signs of unauthorized activity or fraud. You should also call your banks and credit card companies to report the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach.
Below is a copy of the initial data breach letter sent on behalf of Chelan Douglas Health District:
McDonald Hopkins PLC represents Chelan Douglas Health District. I am writing to provide notification of an incident at Chelan Douglas Health District that may affect the security of personal information of approximately 108,906 residents. Chelan Douglas Health District’s investigation is ongoing, and this notification will be supplemented with any new or significant facts or findings subsequent to this submission, if any.
Chelan Douglas Health District recently discovered unauthorized access to its network occurred between July 2, 2021 and July 4, 2021. Chelan Douglas Health District immediately launched an investigation in consultation with outside cybersecurity professionals who regularly investigate and analyze these types of situations to analyze the extent of any compromise of the information on its network. Based on its comprehensive investigation and document review, we discovered on February 12, 2022, Chelan Douglas Health District discovered that certain identifiable personal information was removed from its network in connection with this incident, including the affected residents’ full names and one or more of the following: Social Security numbers, dates of birth/death, driver’s license numbers, financial account information, medical information, and/or health insurance policy information.
To date, Chelan Douglas Health District is not aware of any reports of identity fraud or improper use of any information as a direct result of this incident. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, Chelan Douglas Health District wanted to inform you (and the affected residents) of the incident and to explain the steps that it is taking to help safeguard the affected residents against identity fraud. Chelan Douglas Health District is providing the affected residents with written notification of this incident commencing on or about March 15, 2022 in substantially the same form as the letter attached hereto. Chelan Douglas Health District is offering the affected residents whose Social Security numbers were impacted complimentary one-year memberships with a credit monitoring service. Chelan Douglas Health District is advising the affected residents about the process for placing fraud alerts and/or security freezes on their credit files and obtaining free credit reports. The affected residents whose bank account information was impacted are being advised to contact their financial institutions to inquire about steps to take to protect their accounts. The affected residents are also being provided with the contact information for the consumer reporting agencies and the Federal Trade Commission. The affected residents whose medical information was impacted are also being provided steps to take to safeguard themselves against medical identity theft.
At Chelan Douglas Health District, protecting the privacy of personal information is a top priority. Chelan Douglas Health District is committed to maintaining the privacy of personal information in its possession and has taken many precautions to safeguard it. Chelan Douglas Health District continually evaluates and modifies its practices and internal controls to enhance the security and privacy of personal information.
Notice is being provided pursuant to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, 45 CFR §§ 164.400, et seq.
Should you have any questions regarding this notification, please contact me at (248) 220- 1356 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your cooperation.