PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — An investigation is underway within the Palm Beach County Health Department after it was discovered an employee was collecting patient names and Social Security numbers for fraudulent use.
The county sent out letters informing dozens of clinic patients about the breach of information, notifying them their identity might have been stolen.
"We put our lives in their hands pretty much, that's our only choice. Why are they doing that to us? I'm just speechless," said Amber Beck, a clinic patient.
Beck, who has been going to county clinics for three years, is at a loss for words when hearing her personal information might have been leaked.
The county said an employee allegedly made a list of patient names and Social Security numbers for fraudulent use. A spokesperson said at least 86 people might have had their identity stolen.
"They can ruin your credit and just mess up your life doing something like that," said Brad Kurfman, a clinic patient.
The county health department said the breach came to light as a result of the Palm Beach County sheriff's office confiscating letters the unnamed employee was sending out. The county will not release the employee's name, but said the employee has been terminated.
"There is a certain degree of trust for any employee that works for you. And when that trust is betrayed, it is really devastating," said Tim O'Connor, spokesperson for the county health department.
O'Connor said the employee used the online medical record system "HMS" and stole information from multiple county clinics. O'Connor said the employee worked within the record department for years and there were no red flags or signs.
"We are very sorry that this happened. We're very sorry that an employee of ours took advantage of this," said O'Connor.
Patients now must check their credit scores to make sure they were not victims.
Officials say a free report can be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com . If you have had fraudulent activity, it is suggested you contact the Palm Beach County Sheriff Office.