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Patient claims identity theft after Advocate breach

September 13, 2013 5:50:32 AM PDT
A man says he is a victim of identity theft after his personal information was on one of the computers stolen from the Advocate Medical Group in suburban Park Ridge. That theft put more than 4 million patients at risk.

Some patients report identity thieves have tried to use that information to open unauthorized accounts, and in some cases, succeeded. A local couple was alerted when cell phone companies sent letters confirming new accounts, accounts they knew nothing about.

Newlyweds Jason and Marquita Cook have plans for their growing family. But plans to buy investment property or anything requiring a credit check are on hold.

"I'm definitely worried about the future and what's going to happen to my name," said Jason Cook, alleged identity theft victim.

They became aware of 11 new unauthorized cell phone numbers in Jason's name in the last few weeks. And recently they were informed by Advocate Medical Group that Jason's personal information was among four million patients personal information stolen.

"These are the things we found in this short time, I don't know what's out there," said Jason Cook.

"I was very alarmed and very frustrated with the situation," said Marquita Cook.

The theft of two unencrypted computers on July 15 from an Advocate facility on Touhy in Park Ridge was made public August 23. The Cook's say one of the unauthorized accounts was opened on Touhy and they live in the south suburbs.

"Not only are we talking about credit but we're talking about livelihood because this person who has Jason's identity also has our address," said Marquita Cook.

The Cooks are part of a class action lawsuit against Advocate alleging insufficient protection of personal information

"It's not an area in which where any healthcare organization can take any shortcuts or afford to be lax," said Shannon McNulty, attorney for the Cooks.

Advocate will not discuss pending litigation but the health system's spokeswoman says steps have been taken to better secure patient information.

"We take seriously that our patients entrust us with their care and we're committed to offer them support and take steps to improve," said Kelly Jo Golson, Advocate Healthcare.

Advocate reports 100,000 patients have signed up for the free credit monitoring offered by Advocate. Patients who were notified by Advocate and anyone with concerns about compromised information can set up fraud alerts with the credit bureaus.

ABC7 has learned a north suburban woman had a fraud alert which prevented identity thieves from opening accounts.

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