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March 11, 2021

Miller, AGs reach settlement with medical debt collection agency over data breach

Intrusion exposed information of nearly 10,000 Iowans 

DES MOINES — Attorney General Tom Miller, as part of a coalition of 41 attorneys general, has settled with Retrieval-Masters Creditors Bureau d/b/a American Medical Collection Agency resolving a multistate investigation into the 2019 data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 7 million individuals, including 9,892 Iowa residents, and potentially exposed the personal information of up to 21 million individuals throughout the United States.     

Retrieval-Masters Creditors Bureau is a debt collection agency. Under the name American Medical Collection Agency, or AMCA, the company 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 Aug. 1, 2018, through March 30, 2019, according to the petition filed in Polk County District Court. 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.   

On June 3, 2019 AMCA provided notice to many states and began providing notice to more than 7 million affected individuals that 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. 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 Dec. 9, 2020, filed for dismissal of the bankruptcy.   

“Our office pursues data breach cases such as this one to ensure companies take proper steps to protect consumers’ personal information and provide timely notice of a breach so that consumers can protect themselves from identity theft,” Miller said. 

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

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.  

Joining Miller in the settlement were the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, 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. 

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