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Attorney General announces settlement with American Medical Collection Agency over 2019 data breach

Aaron Ford
Posted at 9:37 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 13:19:35-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford recently announced that Nevada, as part of a coalition of 41 Attorneys General, has settled with Retrieval-Masters Creditors Bureau d/b/a American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), resolving a multistate investigation into a 2019 data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 7 million individuals, including 345,447 Nevadans, and potentially exposed the personal information of up to 21 million individuals throughout the United States.

AMCA specialized in small-balance medical debt collection primarily for laboratories and medical testing facilities. An unauthorized user gained access to AMCA’s internal system from August 1, 2018 through March 30, 2019. AMCA failed to detect the intrusion, despite warnings from banks that processed its payments. The unauthorized user was able to collect a wide variety of personal information, including Social Security numbers, payment card information, and, in some instances, names of medical tests and diagnostic codes.

“Debt collectors, particularly those with consumers’ health information, have a duty to uphold the promise to keep consumers’ data safe from unauthorized access,” said Attorney General Ford. “My office will continue to make sure that those who have access to Nevadans’ personal and financial information maintain the security standards necessary to keep that data from being exposed.”

On June 3, 2019, AMCA began providing notice of the breach to more than 7 million affected individuals, which included an offer of two years of free credit monitoring. On June 17, 2019, as a result of the costs associated with providing notification and remediating the breach, AMCA filed for bankruptcy. In order to continue the investigation and take steps to ensure that the personal information of their residents was protected, the multistate coalition participated in all bankruptcy proceedings through the Attorneys General of Indiana and Texas. The company ultimately received permission from the bankruptcy court to settle with the multistate, and on December 9, 2020, filed for dismissal of the bankruptcy.

As part of the settlement, AMCA may be liable for a suspended $21 million total payment to the states. Because of AMCA’s financial condition, the payment is suspended unless the company violates certain terms of the settlement agreement.

Importantly, under the terms of the settlement, AMCA and its principals have agreed to implement and maintain a series of data security practices designed to strengthen its information security program and safeguard the personal information of consumers. These include:

  • Creating and implementing an information security program with detailed requirements, including an incident response plan;
  • Employing a duly qualified Chief Information Security Officer;
  • Hiring a Third-Party Assessor to perform an information security assessment; and
  • Cooperating with the Attorneys General with investigations related to the data breach and maintaining evidence.

In addition to Nevada, other states participating in the coalition includes: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.