There are good reasons to use third parties for business services. It is also very important that those partners are going to take care of the data you provide to them or trust them with; especially when it's sensitive data. Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, both companies that provide medical lab services were notified that the data of around 19.5 million of its customers was left exposed by a third party that it uses for billing collection services. American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA) notified Quest and LabCorp that unauthorized parties had access to some medical and payment data for a period of six months starting in August 2018.

From August 1 to March 30, 2019 AMCA reported that the payment card numbers, financial account details, medical information, and social security numbers were left exposed. No specific lab results were included in the information on the system, but other medical information was. And with that and the other information, there is enough for someone to do some damage, should he or she desire.

When using third parties, be sure to vet them thoroughly. Ask them their security strategy and mitigation plans and if you aren’t comfortable, work with them on those until you are. If they aren’t willing, then you may need to find another service provider. And if your third party is going to use a third party, find out their security strategy involving them too. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.

As for the ones whose information was accessible and potentially stolen or anyone who has had lab work done by either of these companies, be sure to review those benefit statements when they arrive. Anything that looks unfamiliar should be questioned. Call the healthcare provider to make sure it wasn’t billed under an incorrect number. If you don’t recognize the provider on the statement, contact the insurance company and get to the bottom of it.

Since social security numbers were included here, be sure to keep a close watch on your credit reports. A free one is available from each of the three major bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to everyone in the U.S. that has credit. If something is not correct, contact that bureau immediately to get it resolved. To keep an even closer eye on your credit, request your free report from every four months from a single one of the agencies rather than getting them all at once. If you don’t need to access your credit or don’t need to have it checked for anything such as a new vehicle loan or for approval to rent an apartment, consider placing a freeze on it. Congress requires that action to be available to you at no charge.

Also watch your payment card charges and if there is something you don’t recognize, take care of it right away.

As always, if your social security number was stolen in a data breach or in some other way, be sure to file your income taxes as early as possible each year. Tax fraud is on the rise and the sooner you file, the lower the chances a criminal will get your refund or cause you other grief when it comes to tax time.