By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Wyoming Department of Health is warning residents about fraudulent calls from people taking advantage of the department’s recent data breach in an effort to obtain personal information.
WDH recently announced a mistaken exposure of laboratory test result data involving more than 164,000 Wyoming residents and others including hundreds from Colorado. The incident involved coronavirus and influenza test result data and breath alcohol test result files mistakenly uploaded by an employee to private and public online storage locations on servers belonging to GitHub.com.
Jeri Hendricks, Office of Privacy, Security and Contracts administrator with WDH, said the department is hearing reports of Wyoming residents receiving fraudulent calls from people claiming to represent the department. The callers say they are calling about the breach, but then try to obtain personal information, Hendricks said.
“The callers falsely claim to represent us, say they are calling about the breach and then ask the individuals they’ve reached for insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other financial information. In some instances, it seems they have been able to make it appear as if the calls are coming from state government phone numbers,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks emphasized the affected files did not contain Social Security numbers, or banking, financial, health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid information, but did include name or patient ID, address, date of birth, test results and dates of service.
“No one representing the department will ask you for insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or personal financial information. No one representing the department will call you about the breach unless they are returning a call you made to us first,” she said.
A special WDH information line dedicated to the breach has been established at 1-833-847-5916. The phone line is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WDH has advised Wyoming residents who received coronavirus or influenza tests anywhere in the United States between January 2020 and March 9, 2021 but who have not been alerted by a letter to a possible leak of their personal information to call the information line to learn if their information was involved.
In addition, anyone who received a breath alcohol test performed by law enforcement in Wyoming between April 19, 2012 and Jan. 27 who doesn’t receive a letter should also call.
A year of free IdentityForce protection has been offered by WDH to people affected by the breach. IdentityForce provides advanced credit and dark web monitoring, along with identity theft insurance and medical identity theft coverage. Affected individuals can call the WDH information line at 1(833) 847-5916 for an IdentityForce verification code to allow online enrollment for the service.
Scams related to the health information breach should be reported to the Consumer Protection Unit in the Wyoming Attorney General’s office by calling 307-777-6397, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting formal complaints online.