A state Health Department laptop containing about 133,000 Oklahomans’ personal information was stolen from a worker’s locked car in Yukon. Someone broke the passenger window of the car as it was parked outside a Yukon restaurant April 6 and took a black backpack containing the laptop. State Health Commissioner Terry Cline apologized for the incident. Names, addresses, Social Security numbers, medical information on birth defects, birth weight, test results, tribal membership and limited medical diagnoses were among the data, a Health Department representative said. “Obviously, there is the potential for identity theft,” Health Department spokeswoman Leslea Bennett-Webb said. A state employee left the laptop in her car while she lunched at Carino’s Italian Restaurant after visiting hospitals and entering data into the Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry, a statewide surveillance of birth defects used to monitor trends, educate and analyze data on birth defects. The Health Department requires data to be encrypted, but Bennett-Webb said that wasn’t done and the department is investigating whether the employee should be fired. “We’re looking into why that amount of information was on a laptop that was transported throughout the state,” she said. “I don’t know what all was included on that computer, and that’s part of the investigation.” The department filed a police report, and staffers worked over the weekend to prepare to mail letters Monday to those with information in the laptop, warning them that personal data may be at risk. The department cautions people not to fulfill any mailed or phoned requests for Social Security information. Candice Martin, 30, a Norman resident with a son who has a now- corrected congenital birth defect, said she saw the story on The Oklahoman’s website, NewsOK.com, and called the Health Department to see whether her information was on the laptop. She said she was transferred to a number where the voice mail was full. “They won’t tell me if my son’s name is on there. It makes me so mad,” Martin said. “I don’t want his information stolen. I don’t want the entire world knowing what his problem was, and I don’t want anyone stealing his identification.” Martin said she has another son whose information also could be in the laptop. “It’s not something that should be left in the car to be stolen. How hard is it to put the laptop in your purse and take it with you?” Martin said. The police report states a tote bag containing 50 paper files of condensed medical information also was stolen. So far, there are no reports of suspected identity theft.Comments
Getting helpThe Health Department will help with identity protection services and has a question-and-answer section at www.ok.gov/health. Questions may be sent to the Health Department at contactosdha @health.ok.gov or called in to (866) 278-7134.