Texas AG accuses rehab center of dumping sensitive customer info

January 10, 2008

Associated Press


The Texas attorney general filed court papers Thursday accusing a facility owned by a Pennsylvania-based physical therapy company of violating state identity theft protection laws.

Investigators in the attorney general's office say a rehabilitation center operated by Select Physical Therapy dumped about 4,000 pieces of sensitive customer information in garbage containers behind its facility in Levelland, about 30 miles west of Lubbock. The records included Social Security numbers, credit and debit card account numbers, names, addresses and telephone numbers.

Investigators say the garbage containers also contained "sensitive medical information" and copies of checks from large corporations that had contracted with the facility for employee physicals and drug tests.

Attorney General Greg Abbott said he is seeking a fine of up to $500 for each record containing personal identifying information and civil penalties of up to $50,000 for each violation of the state's Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act that requires companies to protect and properly dispose of clients' sensitive personal information.

"By failing to comply with the Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, the defendants not only violated the law, they exposed their customers to identity theft," Abbott said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Select Medical Corp., the parent company for the Select Physical Therapy facility, said the company will cooperate with Abbott's investigation. The facility in question, spokeswoman Carolyn Curnane said, closed in September.

"Safeguarding the protected health information and personal information of all patients is a top priority at our company," Curnane said in a statement. "We recognize that any breach in patient confidentiality is an extremely serious matter."

Investigators have not determined if any exposed data has been used illegally but are encouraging customers who have used the Levelland facility to monitor their bank and credit card statements for evidence of theft.

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