Health Research Study Leaves over 2,000 at Risk for Identity Theft

August 3, 2010

The University of Florida’s College of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research is under investigation after over 2,000 questionnaires regarding the HPV human papillomavirus vaccination were sent out with the participant’s Social Security number or Medicaid numbers posted on the address labels in order to track the participant’s responses.

This is, however, against the University of Florida’s policy, as well as the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration and the United States’ Office of Civil Rights. The numbers posted on the address labels have the hyphens removed, but can obviously still be used to commit fraud if detected by the wrong person.

Those who may have been affected by this incident have been notified via mail, along with information on how to protect their financial and medical data, such as identity theft protection services or credit monitoring services. The risk of theft is extremely low, states University of Florida spokesman, but the risk is still there. For those who have received the letter but are still concerned and have questions, they are encouraged to contact the Privacy Office Hotline at 1-866-876-HIPA.