We first exposed the security breach last spring. Now, some patients are suing over the theft of their information.
It's impossible to know how many people have had their identities stolen from the hospital network. North Shore says it maybe a couple of hundred but law enforcement sources tell us they believe the number is much higher. The Criminal investigation is ongoing, but some patients say the damage has been done.
"My whole life has been turned upside down. It took six months to straighten up the IRS," identity theft victim Denise Abdale said.
We first met Denise Abdale last April, just after we aired a story on a massive security breach in the North Shore Hospital/LIJ system. Someone had used her name to file a fraudulent tax return.
"When I saw your report I said it had to be North Shore," she said.
Abdale, who had been in and out of the hospital several times, is just one victim of a security breakdown that allowed confidential information to be stolen in two separate breaches over several months. The result for Charleen Solomon has been a credit nightmare.
The thieves racked up thousands of dollars in purchases. Solomon, who'd been a patient at North Shore, only realized the connection when she received a warning letter last March. Other patients, like Paulette Schram, say they never received any notice from the hospital.
"For this to happen because you went into the hospital is obscene," Schram said.
After bills started coming in from Bloomingdale's and Macy's, Schramm says she was contacted by a detective in New Jersey who asked if she'd ever been a patient at North Shore. The thieves were working in several states.
"They had created a license from the state of Georgia. I was devastated," she said.
There have been some arrests, including a health aide from Brooklyn who recently pleaded guilty to identity theft, but the criminal investigation continues.
"Even if people are arrested, you're still going to have to worry for the rest of your life," Schram said.
Attorney Bonita Zelman says it's clear North Shore hasn't notified all potential victims, and she wants to do it as part of a class action.
Remember: you're entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax)
Annualcreditreport.com is the ticket. Freecreditreport.com is NOT the ticket. Its a pay service
You can find more answers to frequently asked questions here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports
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