Recently, PhySynergy, LLC confirmed that certain patients’ protected health information was exposed due to a data breach at Technology Management Resources, Inc., a company that facilitates payment processing for PhySynergy. 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 PhySynergy 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 the responsible parties.
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 PhySynergy Data Breac
Understanding the PhySynergy data breach requires some background information. PhySynergy, Inc. is a healthcare provider that merged with another healthcare company called Epix Healthcare back in 2016. Together, these companies provide anesthesia services in 11 states, through 28 different facilities.
The recent breach involves information of PhySynergy clients; however, two other companies were also involved, IberiaBank and Technology Management Resources, Inc. (“TMR”). According to a letter issued to those impacted by the breach, PhySynergy relies on IberiaBank to process some of the payments it receives from customers and patients. To accomplish this, PhySynergy has a lockbox service with IberiaBank. IberiaBank relies on TMR to administer this lock-box service on behalf of its clients.
On January 5, 2022, PhySynergy was informed of a data security incident involving the TMR lockbox services it uses to process customer payments. More specifically, TMR identified unusual activity regarding a user account in the company’s payment application on or around October 14, 2021. It was later confirmed that this activity was unauthorized, and the unauthorized party had access to the data between October 12 and October 14, 2021.
Evidently, the unauthorized party was able to obtain customer information in binary format. PhySynergy explained that it is possible for someone to convert this binary data to images, which would then display patient information. While the compromised information varies by patient, it may include your name, date of service, driver’s license number, financial account number, health information, health insurance information, medical record number, medical treatment information, and Social Security Number.
Subsequently, PhySynergy began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.
More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches
Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a company’s computer systems with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted TMR, it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those companies 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 a company experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for the company 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 PhySynergy data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like PhySynergy, IberiaBank and TMR are all responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that PhySynergy 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 PhySynergy Data Breach?
When customers decided to do business with PhySynergy, they may not have known that other companies such as IberiaBank and TMR would also have access to their information. Regardless, anyone would assume that PhySynergy and its payment processing companies would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that consumers would think twice before giving a company 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 these companies’ data security systems.
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. This is the case even if a company received a consumer’s information through a third-party, such as was the case with the PhySynergy/TMR data breach.
Of course, given the recency of the PhySynergy 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 any of the companies involved are 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 in the wake of the PhySynergy/TMR breach, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive a PhySynergy Data Breach Notification?
If PhySynergy 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 press release issued by PhySynergy, LLC describing the data breach (a direct link to the press release can be found here):
PhySynergy, LLC (the “Company”) is notifying individuals of a service provider security incident that involved the personal information of some of its patients and/or customers.
What happened? The Company has a lockbox service with IBERIABANK for collecting and processing information from our patients and/or customers. IBERIABANK uses Technology Management Resources, Inc. (TMR) as a third-party lockbox service provider to process payments and capture pertinent payment data for items received in the lockbox. On October 14, 2021, TMR identified unusual activity with a user account in its lockbox application. It was determined that the activity was unauthorized, and the account was promptly disabled. The Company was notified of this incident on January 5, 2022 and has been actively seeking information regarding the incident to be able to provide this notice to affected individuals.
TMR investigated the incident and reported that the unauthorized activity occurred between October 12, 2021, and October 14, 2021. According to TMR’s investigation, the threat actor accessed bytes (bits of computer data) that were associated with certain images for lockbox payments and related documents. TMR has stated that the bytes accessed by the threat actor were in binary format only and as an encoded string (this means that the data was an encoded series of information stored in the form of ones and zeros). Technical manipulation of the bytes would be required to convert them into images. No actual images were viewed by the threat actor during the period of unauthorized access. TMR determined that it is likely that these bytes were obtained by the threat actor based upon traffic to the IP address. TMR’s investigation has not revealed any evidence to confirm that the threat actor converted the bytes into images, although this could have been possible.
What information was involved? According to TMR, the encoded data was associated with certain check images and related documents within TMR’s client payment application (iRemit) that may have contained PII or PHI. Specifically, after completing e-discovery on these documents, the information potentially involved may have included affected individual’s name and date of service, driver’s license number, financial account number, health information, health insurance information, medical record number, medical treatment information, and for certain individuals, this may have included their social security number.
What is the Company doing in response? We take the privacy and security of personal information very seriously. As part of our ongoing commitment to information privacy and the security of information, we are notifying affected individuals of this incident. Although we are not aware of any misuse of information as a result of this incident, out of an abundance of caution, IBERIABANK is offering complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection through TransUnion. These services will be available to affected individuals for 12 months at no cost. Affected individuals must complete the enrollment steps to activate these services.
What you can do. As a best practice, we encourage affected individuals to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review their financial account statements, and to monitor their credit reports for suspicious activity. Affected individuals may also enroll in the complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection services IBERIABANK is making available as a professional courtesy and in an abundance of caution.
For more information. To verify and obtain additional information regarding whether your information was potentially affected by this incident, please call 1 (855) 604-1755, toll-free, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.