Blue Cross says contractor took 27,000 Social Security numbers

February 16, 2006

By Ron Word, Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., - The names and Social Security numbers of about 27,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida current and former employees, vendors and contractors were sent by a contractor to his home computer in violation of company policies, the company said Thursday.

The contractor had access to a database of identification badge information and transferred it via e-mail to a home computer, said Lisa Acheson Luther, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokeswoman.

"We believe there was only one person involved in the incident," Luther said. "We terminated his access to the systems and we don't believe it went any further than his home computer."

Blue Cross is declining to name the contractor because the breach is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI. A call to Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office was not immediately returned.

More than half of the information was that of current and former employees, Luther said.

Blue Cross is notifying those affected and will provide them with a year's worth of free credit monitoring service.

The company is not aware of any instances where the stolen information has been used to commit identity theft or otherwise be misused.

"We have verified that no customer information or personal health information was included in the inappropriate actions. In addition, no banking, credit card, home address or driver's license information was included," she said.

The company was notified about the computer breach within 24 hours after its computer notified it that inappropriate information was transferred.

This is the second time in less than a year Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has had to deal with inadvertent disclosure of personal information.

In August, the company accidentally disclosed Social Security numbers of 194 long-term care policy holders in a mass mailing. The labels on the letters contained the recipients' Social Security numbers.

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