Local man finds another Walgreens customer's info

July 12, 2011 7:37:39 PM PDT
Federal law requires your medical records be kept private and confidential, but there can be cracks in the system. 7 On Your Side found a disturbing example of that.

We often hear about data breaches, when hackers steal someone's personal information, but in this case, just the opposite occurred. A consumer was shocked to find someone else's private information on his computer and he couldn't stop it from happening.

Rick Mei gets all his prescriptions filled at the c pharmacy and for his tax records, a list of his medications appears in his Walgreens.com account. It's a great service except, Mei was shocked when he saw his list.

"Somehow it turns out that it's not my record, it's some other old lady's record, so I was so surprised!" said Mei.

Mei's account somehow listed medications belonging to a complete stranger. Six pages and dozens of prescriptions complete with the doctors' names, dates, prices paid. Mei didn't really want to be in possession of someone else's private information.

"Basically, I can tell what kind of health condition she is in and who is her doctor. That's basically somebody's really, really important information," said Mei.

The phone number at the top wasn't his either. He traced it to a woman named Carol at an address in San Francisco. He wrote her a letter saying he had her private information, but never heard back.

Now Mei is worried someone else might have his information too, so he marched to Walgreens and reported the mix up. The manager promised the corporate offices would correct the mistake.

"Somehow I have been waiting for over two months and still haven't heard anything back from them yet, so that's why I contacted ABC's 7 On Your Side," said Mei.

We checked it out and found Carol's information was still showing up here in Mei's account two months later. We called the number listed on the account. Sure enough Carol picked up. She was surprised about the mix up.

"I don't feel horribly threatened or anything because I don't care that much personally, but just the idea, a lot of people really would care and it's wrong, it's wrong," said Carol.

We also contacted Walgreens and the company took it very seriously. It tracked down the problem and a few days later, Mei opened his account again and said they fixed it. His own prescriptions were in his own account.

Walgreens said: "We are sorry this occurred and have apologized to the patient. We take online security very seriously, and the customer's account has now been fixed. To ensure users are accessing the correct information, we have a multi-step authentication process to verify the user's identity online. In addition, we have updated our process for matching patient profiles with online users. We also continue to investigate what happened in this case to help ensure issues are resolved promptly and a similar situation doesn't happen again."

Walgreens also says it has found no indication that Mei's private information wound up on anybody else's computer.

Load Comments