cleveland-clinicAn employee at a Cleveland hospital was alleged to have improperly accessed nearly 700 patients’ records over the past three years and was fired for the offense, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. The University Hospitals system announced the breach Nov. 28, and a spokeswoman told the Plain Dealer the hospital is not aware of any fraud or identity theft related to the incident.

The hospital system has kept details about the employee quiet but said the breach occurred from Jan. 25, 2011 through June 27 this year. This person was said to have accessed 692 electronic patient files, which include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, health insurance account numbers, information on office visits and other personal information. The employee reportedly viewed some Social Security numbers, as well as credit and debit card numbers, according to the Plain Dealer. Affected patients should receive letters notifying them of the incident, the spokeswoman told the newspaper.

Though there reportedly have been no signs of fraud, the breach still poses a considerable threat to those whose information was compromised. It’s unclear if and how the alleged perpetrator may have saved the data, and beyond credit and debit card numbers, much of the information the hospital says was accessed can’t be changed. This is especially concerning when it comes to Social Security numbers, because not only can someone open fraudulent financial accounts using your Social Security number, an identity thief could commit crimes or receive healthcare using the number. Mixed records as a result of identity theft can have disastrous results.

While it’s not known how this information may have been used, it’s a good idea for victims of this breach to be on high alert, because once your Social Security number is exposed, you need to be prepared for someone to use it. It’s a good idea for all consumers to monitor their credit reports and scores for signs of fraud, but it’s crucial for ID theft victims. You may want to go as far as freeze your credit, if you’re a victim of such a breach.

By regularly reviewing your credit scores, you will be able to quickly identify signs of fraud. You can see two of your credit scores for free with updates every 30 days on, and if you notice a sudden change in your score, you can act immediately to stop any unauthorized activity in your name and prevent credit damage, which can have a ripple effect on your financial and personal well-being.

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