University of California-Los Angeles Center Alerts Blood Donors to Possibility of Identity Theft
The University of California-Los Angeles Blood and Platelet Center sent a letter on June 5 to 145,000 donors to notify them that they "could be victims of identity theft" because a laptop containing their names, Social Security numbers, blood types and dates of birth was stolen, the Los Angeles Times reports. The laptop was stolen from a locked UCLA van in November, but UCLA Healthcare officials said they were not aware of the implications until early May when they began an internal review of data security. UCLA Healthcare spokesperson Dr. Michael McCoy said that the information on the computer was password protected but did not include the more sophisticated data security technology that UCLA currently uses. He said that someone with a knowledge of the old technology could access the data, according to the Times. Police told UCLA Healthcare officials that it is likely the thief wanted the computer, not its information.
Along with the letters, UCLA Healthcare sent identity theft protection information, as required by law, to all donors who gave blood over the past 15 years and established a hotline for them to call. In addition, UCLA Healthcare officials said that they are increasing encryption security and limiting the information that they store on laptops, which are more vulnerable to theft.
Dr. Priscilla Figueroa, director of transfusion medicine at UCLA, said in a statement, "There's no indication that any of this information has been used, and we've acted promptly to notify people." She said that the Blood and Platelet Center "deeply regretted the loss of donor information" (Usher, Los Angeles Times, 6/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.