TennCare patients’ Social Security numbers lost on stolen laptop

Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:50am

A dental benefits company for TennCare said a laptop computer missing since March contained the names and Social Security numbers of about 10,500 Tennesseans.

DentaQuest, a benefits manager for TennCare and, to a lesser extent, CoverKids, said Wednesday the company learned on April 1, that a car belonging to one of its contractors was stolen in Chicago on March 20 with the laptop inside.

According to a company release, the computer contained a database of information for about 76,000 clients, but most of it wasn’t sensitive in nature.

The first names, last names and Social Security numbers, however, of about 21,000 individuals were included on the laptop. That number included confidential information on 10,500 Tennesseans.

An attorney for DentaQuest said the company notified its clients on April 9, but HIPPA allows for 60 days before customers must be notified. During that time, the attorney said, DentaQuest was gathering information to notify those affected.

In its release, DentaQuest said there was no evidence the information was improperly accessed or misused, but it would mail notifications to those affected starting Monday, June 14.

According to the company, those mailings would include what information was disclosed and information on how to sign up for one year of free identity theft monitoring.

DentaQuest also established a dedicated call center Wednesday afternoon to answer questions from those affected. The center’s hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday, and the number to call is 1-877-309-0021.

The loss of TennCare patients’ information is the latest in a string of data breaches involving government agencies.

In late 2007, a pair of laptops were stolen from the Metro Election Commission. The computers contained the Social Security numbers of every registered voter in Davidson County, and in April 2009 the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of every student registered at Metro Nashville Public Schools were unintentionally put on an web server that was not secure. The information was searchable on Google for three months before the error was discovered.

7 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 6/10/10 at 8:25

I think it's time the US and all governments should state
outright they have no expectations of being able to provide
security for the information they require you to give them.
This has happened so many times in so many ways it's
a sham to pretend to say "it's protected info".

By: oldhickorytony on 6/10/10 at 9:25

No, no, no... this is via DentaQuest a benefits manager for TennCare... you know... the kind of entity that Republicans love so much and brought into existence because govt couldn't be trusted and mainly because it makes lots of money for their friends...

By: AmyLiorate on 6/10/10 at 10:01

Well tony, at least you can sue DentaQuest!

Try suing the state and see which one works well.

By: stlgtr55@yahoo.com on 6/10/10 at 10:02

Who had possession of the computers when they were stolen? The Metro Election Commission. Isn't that an arm of the government?

By: ladylounel on 6/10/10 at 10:37

I would like to know why people are being allowed to put sensitive information on laptops to begin with. This type of information does not need to leave the office where they work, nor does it need to to be down loaded from the main data base to their own personal computers to begin with. What if little Susie or Johnny at home got into that laptop and started playing with numbers or other information? People would lose benefits that they were entitled to or recieve those that they were not. Who would be responsible?

By: yucchhii on 6/10/10 at 12:34

I have a COMPLETE understanding of this situation! Yes I do! This is what it boils down to. This is a form of GOVERNMENT that is handling these things! There is a CITY government, then there is STATE government and then the FEDERAL government! MOST ALL of us know how INCOMPETENT government is at ALL levels!!! How many things are there that ANY level of government can do WITHOUT messing things up, either by ACCIDENT OR "ON PURPOSE"? Do you UNDERSTAND NOW?

By: waycool1 on 6/11/10 at 12:55

We should be able to sue these people. You can bet your last dollar, if a citizen did something against "them", it'd be hell to pay!!!! What Jerks !!! Just like if someone that has pull at the courthouse & 'they' commit a crime; 'they' get away with it. (I know from personal expeience this is true!) I hope they rot in hell.