A class action lawsuit has been settled by Dental Care Alliance as the result of a data breach affecting 1.7 million individuals. Dental Care Alliance has set up a fund amounting to $3 million for claims from those impacted by the incident.
On September 18, 2020, Dental Care Alliance, a Florida-based dental support organization, announced that its systems had been accessed by an authorized third party. On October 11, 2020, the organization discovered a breach of data. After detection, a comprehensive forensic investigation was immediately launched. The investigation determined that information such as names, addresses, diagnoses, treatment information, patient account numbers, billing information, dentists’ names, payment card information, and health insurance information may have been accessed by a malicious actor. Dental Care Alliance reported the incident to individuals in December 2020.
A breach report was then issued by the organization to the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, originally identifying the breach as affecting 1,004,304 individuals. However, the number was later corrected to 1,723,375 individuals. Dental Care Alliance has said they were unable to identify any misuse of patient data and found no evidence of data theft. As a result, no credit monitoring or identity theft protection services were provided.
After notifying impacted individuals, a lawsuit was submitted to theState Court of Fulton County in Georgia. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of individuals who had their information involved in the data breach and claims that Dental Care Alliance inadequately secured and protected the sensitive information of their patients. The plaintiffs contend that the data breach may have been avoided had the organization put the required safeguards in place. The plaintiffs claim that they now face a higher risk of identity theft and fraud as the malicious actors have access to their private information.
Despite no admission of wrongdoing, Dental Care Alliance has agreed to a settlement to resolve claims relating to the data breach. In accordance with the settlement’s conditions, a $3 million fund will be established to handle claims, in addition to 2 years of identity theft protection services. All members of the class action lawsuit are entitled to claim up to $2,000 for damages as a result of the breach. Dental Care Alliance will also be required to put further security measures in place such as updating policies and procedures and implementing safeguards.