NC DHHS warns of data breach affecting thousands

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — North Carolina officials sent out a warning Friday after learning in September that an unencrypted email with personal identification of about 6,000 people was sent by mistake.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release the “recent incident” involved a spreadsheet that was “sent in error” to a vendor without encryption.

DHHS learned of the “breach” on Sept. 27, the news release said.

“The spreadsheet included names, social security numbers and test results for about 6,000 people who underwent routine drug screenings for employment, intern and volunteer opportunities,” N.C. Department of Health and Human Services officials said in a Friday news release.

After learning of the late September breach, DHHS officials said they worked with the vendor to have the spreadsheet destroyed.

“While DHHS cannot determine for certain that the email was not intercepted during transmission, DHHS has determined that the risk of misuse of the personal information is low,” the news release said.

Authorities said they have mailed letters to people in the spreadsheet notifying them about the incident.  CBS North Carolina has reached out to officials to ask why the public wasn’t told about the incident sooner.

DHHS officials also suggested that contact any “affected individuals” may contact credit bureaus to ask that a fraud alert is placed on their credit files.

DHHS suggested the following credit bureaus:

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

People who may have been affected by the incident can call 1-800-662-7030 with questions.