Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Western NY loses laptop; 40,000 customers notified

Matt Pitts of WGRZ-TV writes:

Thousands of Blue Cross-Blue Shield customers are being notified by mail that their identity could potentially be compromised.

A viewer called 2 On Your Side to tell us her son received a letter from the company telling him his information is on a company laptop computer that’s missing.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield Spokesperson Karen Merkel-Liberatore tells 2 On Your Side 40 thousand current and former customers in the Buffalo and Albany areas are effected. The company is giving them one year of free Equifax credit protection.

“They came highly recommended by the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association. It is an industry standard (in these cases) that a one year credit monitoring service is provided” says Merkel-Liberatore.

Customers who have questions should call Blue Cross-Blue Shield at the number listed on your member ID card. If there’s something you’d like us to look into, call the 2 On Your Side Tipline at 849-2220, or send us an e-mail by clicking on the link at the top of our main page.

Source – WGRZ

Update of Mar. 11: Jonathan Epstein of the Buffalo News adds a bit more detail:

[…]

In HealthNow’s case, the company is reconfiguring its claims software system, and the employee had downloaded some member information to his laptop while working on the project so he could work either in building or at home. The laptop was reported missing in late fall, but the company did not notify customers until now because officials wanted to make sure whether such action would be necessary.

Instead, officials first “spent an exhorbitant amount of time” to try and locate the laptop, which they still believe is in the company’s building, Merkel- Liberatore said. Only “when it was apparent we couldn’t find it” did officials try to narrow down what information might have been lost, she added.

Using the company’s shared drive and with the cooperation of the employee, officials retraced his path to determine what information he was working with. The company then set up the credit-monitoring, and began contacting members last Thursday and Friday.

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