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County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Communications & Public Affairs
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 806
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-8144
Fax: (213) 481-1406
email: media@ph.lacounty.gov
Notice for Drug Medi-Cal Clients Regarding Potential Breach of HIPAA Information

September 30, 2013

Dear Clients,

We believe that acting responsibly is an integral part of our commitment to delivering the best possible services to the citizens of Los Angeles County. Recently, on or about July 31, 2013, we became aware that investigative reports containing information about some of our substance use disorder clients were viewable on the CNN website, the non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting website, or were made available to California Watch, a non-profit group of investigative journalists.

After we learned of this, we wrote those agencies and asked that the reports be removed from the CNN and Center for Investigative Reporting websites. Within days, the reports were replaced with reports that did not include any client information. Additionally, we attempted to personally contact those affected through the U.S. mail to inform them of this instance. Some of our clients could not be reached and our letters were returned unopened. It is our intention to reach those that may have missed our letter.

The investigative reports may have contained specific client information including first and last names, gender, date of birth, the agency client file number consisting of your last name initial, first name initial, gender code, and date of birth (MMDDYY), or any combination of this information. Information for approximately 250 clients was shared.

Some of these reports were obtained by CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting and these organizations posted the report on their websites on or about July 29, 2013, as part of a news article regarding fraud and waste. Other investigative reports were provided on March 19, 2013 to California Watch in response to a request they made under the California Public Records Act, which is a freedom of information law. To ensure your privacy, before we provided them with these reports, we should have removed all client information. You may contact us to determine if your client information was included in the information that was released at (888) 228-9064.

Although we do not have any indication that client information was or may have been used for identity theft, we encourage you to take steps to protect yourself from identity theft. Federal law allows consumers one free credit report each year from each of the three (3) national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You have the option of requesting all three (3) reports at the same time or requesting them individually, at different times throughout the year.

Experian
PO Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
(888) 397-3742
www.experian.com

TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Division
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
(800) 680-7289
www.transunion.com

Equifax
PO 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
(800) 525-6285
www.equifax.com

The following agencies can provide additional information about protecting against identity theft:

California residents may order a free credit report through the following toll-free phone number or Web site:

1-877-322-8228
www.annualcreditreport.com

If you find that your information has been misused, or that an account has been falsely created using your identity, you should contact your local law enforcement agency, your personal bank(s), and credit card agencies.

In our commitment to prevent a similar incident from occurring again, we have put additional focus on preserving the privacy of our clients and have made great strides in our efforts to develop improved procedures and provided additional training for staff on releasing information through a Public Records Act request or to the media.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concerns this incident may have caused you. If you have any questions or would like additional information, you may contact us at (888) 228-9064.

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