Home > Identity Theft and Scams > Would You Ditch Your Health Care Provider If They Lost Your Data?

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Consumers don’t have a lot of patience for data breaches. If a cyberattack compromises their information, consumers want the affected company to notify them quickly and protect them from fraud. Though even if that happens, it may not be reassuring enough for someone who feels their privacy has been violated.

A new survey from TransUnion Healthcare asked recent health care recipients to describe what they would do if their health care provider experienced a data breach. The results could indicate a grim future for any health services company that gets breached.

More than half of recent patients surveyed said they would switch health care providers if their data was breached, and 65% said they would avoid a health care provider that had experienced a breach. TransUnion Healthcare conducted the survey of 1,228 U.S. patients who received medical care at a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office in the past two years. The survey was conducted in Feb. 2014.

Whether people would actually leave their doctor or avoid a certain hospital because of a data breach can’t be predicted, but even if a portion of people follow through on their intention to avoid health care providers that have been breached, such an event could seriously damage those businesses.

Data breaches present quite the customer-service challenge, because patients want a lot from a company and may still decide to leave. Here’s what the TransUnion survey discovered about patient expectations:

  • 46% expect a response or notification within one day of the breach
  • 31% of consumers expect to receive a response or notification within one to three days
  • 72% expect providers to offer at least one year of free credit monitoring
  • 59% of consumers expect a dedicated phone hotline for questions
  • 55% expect a dedicated website with additional details

Depending on the information compromised in a data breach, identity thieves may be able to do some serious damage to those caught up in it, so it makes sense consumers would want swift action from an affected company. The reality is there’s no single way to best prevent identity theft or fraud after a breach, because there are so many things that could happen, including credit fraud, medical identity theft and criminal identity theft (when someone uses your ID to commit crimes).

The best thing you can do as a consumer is keep a close eye on your account activities and credit reports (you can also get a free summary of your credit report every month on Credit.com to monitor for changes), and as soon as you see a sign of identity theft, investigate it and file a police report if necessary.

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