When an injured worker files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the last thing they may be thinking about is security. After suffering an injury at work, most employees are more concerned over lost wages and covering medical expenses than they are the security procedures used by those processing their claim. Unfortunately just as identity theft and fraud are an issue anywhere private information is used, the same issues can occur when dealing with workers’ compensation claims.
This is exactly what happened in California recently where identity theft prevention service provider, Identify finder discovered a breach in security. As reported by CMIO.net, “Identity Finder reportedly discovered that a website exposed documents containing hundreds of individuals’ health information and database files containing approximately 300,000 names and Social Security numbers of California residents who applied for workers’ compensation benefits.” The report goes on to say, “Identity Finder notified the website’s owners, Southern California Medical-Legal Consultants (SCMLC) of the breach in May, and SCMLC restricted access to all files within minutes of notification, according to Identity Finder of New York City.”
Clearly you don’t have to be an expert in identity theft to understand how this breach could affect the individuals whose private information is no longer private. Should this information fall into the wrong hands, the individuals in question could find themselves dealing with major problems beyond that of the injury originally suffered due to an accident at work.
In addition to Social Security numbers which were exposed on the website, confidential health records and other personal details were also accessible by unauthorized individuals. Again, a security breach of this magnitude shows just how vulnerable we are to having our information exposed online. Whenever personal information is requested or required by an agency or other institution, ask what security measures are in place to protect that information from falling in the wrong hands.