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Health Insurer Notifies More Than 409,000 Of Potential Breach

Sensitive medical records found on previously leased digital copier, company says
Affinity Health Plan, a New York managed care service, is notifying more than 400,000 current and former customers employees that their personal data might have been leaked through the loss of an unerased digital copier hard drive.

According to a press release (PDF) quietly issued earlier this month, some personal records were found on the hard drive of a copier found in a New Jersey warehouse. The copier had previously been leased by Affinity and was then returned to the leasing company, the release states.

The disclosure follows the airing of a CBS News report that called attention to the practice of recycling or resale of copiers whose hard drives have not been properly erased.

The report showed the discovery of numerous medical records found on warehoused digital copiers. An executive at a company that makes hard-drive-erasure products used a free forensics tool to glean the data from one of the copiers in the CBS News report.

The CBS investigation also turned up sensitive data from other organizations, including personal information from a restaurant in the Phoenix area and criminal records information from a Buffalo-area police department.

Affinity Health Plan says it has not had a chance to review the data found on the copier, but in a news report, a spokesman said the figure of 409,262 notifications includes former and current employees, providers, applicants for jobs, members, and applicants for coverage.

Failure to properly dispose of medical records is a violation of New York privacy regulations and could carry fines or other sanctions.

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