Recently, South Denver Cardiology Associates, P.C. (“South Denver Cardiology” “SDCA”) confirmed that the company experienced a data privacy event resulting in the protected health information of as many as 287,652 patients being compromised. 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 South Denver Cardiology Associates 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 South Denver Cardiology Associates.
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 SDCA Data Breach
South Denver Cardiology Associates is a group of cardiologists serving the greater Denver area. The group began as a two-doctor team in 1973 but has since grown to include 24 cardiologists. The company maintains several offices throughout the area, including in Denver, Englewood, Littleton, Castle Rock and Parker. In 2021, South Denver Cardiology Associates became a department of Littleton Adventist Hospital.
According to a “privacy incident” notice posted on the company’s website, on January 4, 2022, South Denver Cardiology Associates identified suspicious activity on its computer network. In response, the company began an internal investigation to determine the nature and extent of the incident. The investigation revealed that between January 2, 2022 and January 5, 2022, an unauthorized party was able to access certain patient information.
Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, South Denver Cardiology Associates then reviewed the affected files to determine what information was compromised. While the compromised information varies by consumer, it may include patients’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, patient account numbers, health insurance information, physician names, dates and types of service, and diagnoses.
On March 4, 2022, South Denver Cardiology Associates began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident. In total, 287,652 patients were provided notice of the South Denver Cardiology Associates breach.
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 South Denver Cardiology, 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 South Denver Cardiology Associates data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like South Denver Cardiology are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that South Denver Cardiology 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 South Denver Cardiology Data Breach?
When patients decided to seek care at South Denver Cardiology, they assumed that the company 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 a company’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 SDCA 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 South Denver Cardiology 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 South Denver Cardiology Associates, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive a South Denver Cardiology Associates Data Breach Notification?
If South Denver Cardiology Associates 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 “privacy incident” notification posted on the South Denver Cardiology Associates, P.C. website:
South Denver Cardiology Associates is committed to protecting the security and privacy of our patients’ information. Regrettably, this notice explains an incident that may have involved some of that information.
On January 4, 2022, we identified unusual activity within our computer network. We immediately initiated our incident response process, which included taking steps to secure the network and shutting off select computer systems. We also began an investigation with the assistance of a computer forensic firm and notified law enforcement. The investigation determined that an unauthorized person accessed our network between January 2, 2022 and January 5, 2022, and, during that time, accessed certain files stored on our systems.
Our investigation further determined that some of those files contained patient information, which may have included patients’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and/or drivers’ license numbers, patient account numbers, health insurance information, and clinical information, such as physician names, dates and types of service, and diagnoses. There was no impact to the contents of patient medical records and no unauthorized access to the patient portal.
We have no indication that individuals’ information has been misused as a result of this incident. However, as a precaution, on March 4, 2022, we began mailing letters to our patients, which include guidance on how patients can protect their information, as well as details on an offer of complimentary credit monitoring and identity protection services.
We have also established a dedicated, toll-free call center to answer patients’ questions. If you have questions regarding this incident, please call 1-833-774-1214, Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time, excluding major U.S. holidays. You can also visit https://response.idx.us/sdca. To help prevent something like this from happening again, we are taking steps to enhance our security measures.
Events of this nature are affecting an increasing number of companies in the U.S. and around the world. The federal government, law enforcement, and industry experts are working in tandem to address this activity.
We appreciate and thank you for your continued trust in South Denver Cardiology Associates as we work through the changing information landscape, and we are here for any questions or future concerns.