WILKES-BARRE -- The huge data breach on Community Health Systems and Commonwealth Health means that some patients have an increased risk of being victims of identity fraud.
If you believe your personal information may have been hacked, an area cyber security expert says the advice is simple: keep calm and check your credit on a regular basis.
Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is one of the area`s largest medical facilities run by Commonwealth Health.
Commonwealth Health's doctors also see patients at several nearby clinics, and it's at some of those clinics where Commonwealth Health said patients may have had some of their personal information stolen by hackers overseas.
But local security expert Mark Rutkowski of Luzerne County Community College believes this group of hackers was after something else.
"They`re looking for trade secrets, and things like that," said Rutkowski. "It is good for the consumer, because they were probably not targeting consumer information."
According to Community Health, the hackers did not get anyone`s medical condition, banking information, or credit card numbers. But experts say, that doesn't mean all patients are in the clear.
Hackers did get social security numbers.
Rutkowski said it's hard for an overseas thief to convert your social security number into a loan or a credit card that could cost you, but he added patients cannot let their guard down.
"A credit card, you could cancel that, get a new credit card," said Rutkowski. "A social security number you can`t. That number is associated with you for life. And you can`t change it, so that`s a threat that kind of continues."
A spokesperson for Community Health Systems said the company will offer credit monitoring for any patient who asks for it.
Rutkowski said patients at the CHS facilities in our area should take advantage of it, even though he believes your chances of losing money, or having bad credit as a result of this hack are very slim.