Laptop possibly containing personal information stolen from city employee's vehicle

City officials say password-protected laptop may have contained records

By Troy Blevins - Graham Media Group

HOUSTON - The city of Houston is working to recover stolen from a city employee's vehicle. The laptop may have contained personal information.

City officials said the city was the victim of a possible security breach involving employees' group health insurance plan information protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA.

The laptop computer was stolen Feb. 2 from the vehicle of a city employee, officials said. The theft was reported the same day.

City officials said the password-protected laptop may have contained records, including names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other medical information.

The City is exhausting all efforts to recover the laptop and determine the extent, if any, of the information that may have been compromised, including investigations by the Houston Police Department and the Office of Inspector General, officials said.

"The city has reinforced strong measures already in place to protect against breaches. HR professionals are trained not to remove laptops from city offices unless any sensitive data is encrypted," the city said in a release. "Because one employee failed to follow his training, all employees authorized to work with group health plan data are being retrained to reinforce the prohibition against removing unencrypted data from the protections of city facilities."

City officials said potentially affected employees, retirees and their dependents will receive a letter notifying them of the potential breach.

It is recommended that those who receive a notice place a fraud alert on their credit files because Social Security numbers were involved, city officials said.

The city is providing free credit monitoring and identity restoration services for one year to help protect personal information, officials said. Anyone who has questions, needs additional information or assistance from the city can call 855-288-3409.

Copyright 2018 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.