Phone scammers take advantage of Wyoming information breach
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Telephone scammers are trying to take advantage of an accidental Wyoming Department of Health data release affecting over a quarter of the state’s population, department officials said Friday.
Scammers request insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other financial information and in some cases look like they’re calling from state government numbers, department administrator Jeri Hendricks said in a statement.
“No one representing the department will ask you for insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or personal financial information. No one representing the department will call you about the breach unless they are returning a call you made to us first,” Hendricks said.
The scammers appear to be targeting Wyoming residents at random and not through access to phone numbers inadvertently released, department spokeswoman Kim Deti said.
A department employee working with computer code accidentally posted COVID-19 test results as well as associated names, addresses, birth dates and other information on GitHub.com, an internet-based software development platform.
The employee released COVID-19 plus flu test results for 145,698 Wyoming residents. Also posted were blood alcohol test results for 18,312 people, mainly from Wyoming but also other states, dating to 2012.
The employee didn’t post banking, financial, health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid information, or social security numbers, Hendricks said.
The release of COVID-19 test results alone affected 25% of the state’s population of 577,000 residents. The problem began in November and came to department officials’ attention March 10.
Wyoming residents who got COVID-19 tests anywhere in the U.S. before March 10 should call (833) 847-5916 to find out if their information was released. Anyone given a breath alcohol test by Wyoming law enforcement between April 19, 2012, and Jan. 27, 2021, also should call.