nypresbyterian.jpgPatients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center are discovering a hidden cost of healthcare: the theft of their identities at the hands of a hospital employee. During a federal investigation, it was revealed that as many as 40,000 patients over the last five to six years had their names, phone numbers, and social security numbers stolen from hopsital records. An audit at the hospital confirmed that the information had been misappropriated.

While no specific instances of identity abuse have been uncovered yet, federal investigators suspect that the theft of the information may be linked to a larger criminal enterprise. New York-Presbyterian Hospital has established a hot line for patients who fear their financial security has been breached and will establish credit-monitoring services upon request.

The FTC has instructions on what to do if one's personal information has been compromised, but not yet misused. They include how to place fraud alerts on your credit files, request free annual credit reports, and filing complaints with the FTC itself.