WILLIAMSPORT - What may be one of the largest breaches of personal information in our region`s history is coming to light now, little more than a year after workers at a dental practice in Lycoming County learned of the problem.
Stolen data includes the social security numbers of at least five thousand people from the Williamsport area, sensitive information that could be obtained by identity thieves.
The patients had no idea that personal information, including social security numbers were stolen from a dental practice in Williamsport, and was easy for anyone to get.
We showed the social security numbers that correspond to: retiree in Montoursville, a husband in Williamsport, and a woman living at a Lycoming County Assisted Living Center.
All confirmed the social security numbers were theirs.
The stolen data even appears to have included the social security number of Gabe Campana, the Mayor of Williamsport.
"I was stunned," said Campana after Action 16 Investigative Reporter Dave Bohman read him Campana's social security number. The Mayor believes it is from the practice of a dentist who removed Campana's wisdom tooth about 20 years ago.
"Somebody who actually hacked the computer or somehow got access to those numbers, they need to be held accountable," said Campana.
"My personal opinion is an it guy had to have done this, or someone with knowledge of computers," added Justin Shafer of Dallas, Texas who informed Newswatch 16 about the breach of information.
Shafer says he's a computer tech worker who came across the breach while researching a medical office management computer program called "Dentrix" last year.
Dentrix is the most used software of its kind in the US, and Shafer says he found a copy of a Dentrix program on an internet file sharing site.
Shafer says he was curious, so he downloaded the program registered to the Lanap and Implant Dental Center in Williamsport.
And to his surprise, Shafer says it had the names, addresses and in most cases, the social security numbers of 11,000 people in the Williamsport area.
"You can just download and install it, and just use this database and surf it like you would the internet," added Shafer.
Scott McIntosh, a lawyer for the dental practice, and its owner Dr. David DiGiallorenzo called this, "An unauthorized hacking incident," adding, "Much as the sanctity of the home is violated in a burglary, this illegal intrusion has caused real and lasting damage, and Dr. DiGiallorenzo and his patients are the victims. "
When the practice learned of the breach last fall, it sent 5,000 letters to patients.
It warned them of "a data security incident."
It promised the practice "would take additional security measures."
But those people we interviewed say they never got a letter or any warning.
McIntosh says he asked the state police and the f-b-i to investigate.
But law enforcement agencies will not even confirm if a criminal investigation is underway, and the question of who stole the information from the dental offices and why, remains unanswered.
Meantime thousands of social security numbers of people in the Williamsport area remain potentially a couple of mouse clicks away from identity thieves.
"What do you do about it?," asked Joanne Weidman of Williamsport, whose social security number appears to be among those that were stolen.
"I definitely need to get on-line and check with one of these identity theft protection sites," added Adam Weaver of Williamsport. Weaver's social security number also is on the list.
A spokeswoman for the company that makes the Dentrix software via email called the breach, "Isolated, and the only one of which we are aware," She added, "Patients visiting dentists with Dentrix software should feel confident of its security."
There is no evidence that any of the personal information taken from the Williamsport dental office has been used by identity thieves.
Patients of the Lanap and Implant Dental practice in Williamsport are urged to get their credit checked regularly. People can get a free yearly credit check at this site, and should report any suspicious activity on their credit cards to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, or local law enforcement agencies.