Lack of help irks patients after medical data breach

Some patients who had their personal information compromised by a data breach at a Fort Wayne-based medical software company are having trouble signing up for two years of free credit monitoring and identity protection.

Several of those who have tried to take advantage of Medical Informatics Engineering's offer have complained that they can't tell whether the online registration worked. They also said they've had to wait on hold for long periods or didn't receive any help when calling hotlines provided by the company.

"I've tried at least seven times," said Jerry Calkins, 82, of Angola. "I've talked to at least six different women. Nobody can tell me how to log on."

Medical Informatics Engineering began sending letters to patients last month after the private information of 3.9 million people nationwide was exposed when its networks were hacked in May, The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette reported. The compromised information includes patients' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.

"I tried the number two or three times a week," said Bob Smith of Fort Wayne, who was calling on behalf of his adult daughter who has disabilities and is under his care. "All I got was a recording: 'Sorry, we're busy. We're having extreme call volume.'"

After he was able to get someone on the phone, Smith was told that his daughter couldn't be provided with credit monitoring largely because she doesn't have any credit to begin with, he said.

"They told me, 'Your daughter has no credit, so there's no way for us to protect her,'" Smith said. "She can't get a credit card or anything, but her information has been stolen, and someone can use that."

Medical Informatics Engineering officials have reached out to Experian, the credit monitoring company whose services are being offered to patients who had their information compromised, about the volume of calls, according to Jeff Donnell, a company executive.

"At our request, Experian has added more call center agents in response," he said. "In addition, we have provided some tips for enrolling online, which is the fastest and easiest route."

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