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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Air Force officials have sent warnings to 593 people to be on the lookout for signs of identity theft after their medical records were found at a servicemember’s home on Yokota Air Base.

The 374th Airlift Wing announced last week that the documents — which included the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers and health records of people who sought medical advice or treatment in 2008 and 2009 — were discovered as part of an investigation into another matter in May.

However, those potentially affected by the breach in privacy weren’t notified until mid-October.

“While there is no evidence that the compromised personal data has been used in a malicious manner, it is DoD (Department of Defense) and Air Force policy to notify individuals that they may be at risk,” according to an Air Force news release.

Yokota Air Base public affairs officer Capt. Raymond Geoffroy said in an email Friday that investigators found no incidents of the information being exploited for malicious purposes and, initially, determined that the breach did not meet the threshold for reporting under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires that officials inform people if their confidential information is compromised.

“Upon close consultation with the Air Force Surgeon General’s office, and despite the lack of any known harm, we have decided to take the most conservative approach possible and classify this as a HIPAA breach,” Geoffroy said. “We have acted to ensure that each person whose records were improperly handled has been made aware of the situation and has been provided with information to verify the consistency of their personal information through the federal government and other reporting agencies.”

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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