California

Banking & Securities Fraud California Case Files and Settlements Credit Card Fraud Mail Fraud Our Daily News US Department of Justice (DOJ) Wire Fraud

Fifth Defendant Sentenced in Debt Relief Fraud Scheme United States v. Nelson et al.; United States v. Harati et al.

Docket Numbers: 8:14-CR-0198-DSF; 8:15-CR-0041 (C.D. Cal.) On November 21, 2016, defendant John Vartanian was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $1.2 million of restitution in connection with a fraudulent debt relief services scheme based in Orange County, California. Vartanian previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud […]

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Court Orders Dish Network to Pay $280 million for Illegal Telemarketing Calls United States v. Dish Network, LLC

ONLY THREE STATES SCORE HIGHER THAN D+ IN STATE INTEGRITY INVESTIGATION; 11 FLUNK

Owners of Los Angeles Home Health Agency Sentenced to Prison for Role in Health Care Fraud that Defrauded Medicare

California Lawmakers Plan to Give Health Benefits to Illegal Immigrants

Los Angeles Dentist Sentenced to 40 Months in Prison for Role in $3.8 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Aryan Brotherhood Members and Associates Charged with Racketeering for Directing Murders and Other Violent Crimes from Inside California Prisons

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California DOJ Feeds

  • Attorney General Becerra Announces Settlement Against Equifax Providing $600 Million in Consumer Restitution and State Penalties
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 21, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    July 22, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSettlement Requires Increased Consumer Assistance and Ten Years of Free Credit Monitoring SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a nationwide settlement against Equifax resolving allegations that the credit reporting agency improperly exposed the personal information of 147 million consumers, including 15 million Californians, after a massive data breach in 2017. The breach occurred after Equifax failed to apply a critical software fix and implement security measures that would have protected and encrypted consumers’ data. Data exposed by the breach included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances, driver’s license numbers. Equifax did not disclose the breach, which lasted from mid-May through July 2017, until September 2017. The settlement requires Equifax to pay up to $425 million into a restitution fund for affected consumers, pay another $175 million to states in penalties, and offer additional benefits like credit monitoring and consumer assistance for eligible consumers. In addition to other robust injunctive terms, Equifax must implement and maintain critical data security enhancements. “On top of holding Equifax accountable for one of the most devastating data breaches to face our nation, we have now recovered hundreds of millions of dollars to help our families who fell victim. Equifax, one of only three major credit reporting agencies, had a responsibility to secure and protect Americans' data. Instead, it breached public trust,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Our credit status impacts nearly every aspect of our lives – from purchasing a home or a car to finding a job. The same Americans who had to immediately protect themselves from fraudsters or identify thieves will have to be vigilant for the rest of their lives. We encourage every eligible person to apply for the relief they are entitled to as part of our settlement.” Affected consumers may get more information about the $425 million restitution fund by going to www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com or calling the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982. Eligible consumers may receive cash reimbursement for time or money spent trying to avoid or recover from fraud or identity theft because of the breach, as well as limited reimbursement for payments for Equifax credit monitoring or identity theft protection subscriptions. Eligible consumers may also receive free credit monitoring services for a period of up to ten years, or, alternatively, a cash payment for buying a different credit monitoring service.  This settlement is a result of collaborative efforts by a multistate coalition led by Attorney General Becerra. This settlement is also related to the settlements announced today by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and private litigants as part of a class action lawsuit. In addition to the restitution and credit monitoring provided by the settlement, Equifax will pay $175 million in penalties to the states, including more than $18.7 million to California, to support continued oversight and enforcement of consumer protection laws. As part of the injunctive terms of the settlement, Equifax agrees to: Create a consumer assistance process responsive to claims of identity theft that includes affirmative assistance to consumers: Make reasonable efforts to reduce its use and storage of consumer Social Security numbers, including when using a Social Security number to authenticate consumers; Adhere to ban on profiting from data collected in connection with the breach or the remedies provided under the settlement; Comply with requirements related to its collection, maintenance, and safeguarding of consumer personal information; Implement and maintain a comprehensive and rigorous Information Security Program to protect the security of personal information; and Employ a Chief Information Security Officer and additional staff, who will report directly to the company's executive team, to oversee information security within each of the company's business units. In addition to Attorney General Becerra, other Attorneys General participating in this settlement include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. Also joining are Texas, West Virginia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Tags: Consumer AlertsConsumer Protection […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Announces Appointment of Michael Mongan as California Solicitor General
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 19, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    July 19, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the appointment of Michael Mongan to the position of California Solicitor General. Mongan will serve as the chief appellate lawyer for the California Department of Justice, managing the Office of the Solicitor General in overseeing civil and criminal appeals. Mongan will continue the work of outgoing Solicitor General Edward DuMont, who is departing after five years of outstanding, dedicated service in the post. “California was fortunate to have Ed DuMont as our chief appellate lawyer for the last five years, and we are equally fortunate to have someone like Mike, who cares so deeply about this State, to serve as California’s next Solicitor General,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Mike’s commitment to appellate advocacy and his experience in leading some of the Department’s most important appellate projects ensures that the Office of the Solicitor General continues in superb hands.”   “I am honored and humbled that the Attorney General chose me to serve as California’s next Solicitor General,” said Michael Mongan. “I look forward to working with the team in the Office of the Solicitor General and our colleagues throughout the Department to continue our tradition of excellence and success in our appellate practice.” Mongan joined the California Department of Justice in 2014 as a Deputy Solicitor General and became the Supervising Deputy Solicitor General in 2017. In addition to his supervisorial responsibilities, Mongan has briefed and argued numerous cases in the state and federal appellate courts on a range of important issues, including in cases as widely varied as California’s challenge to the Trump Administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and our defense of the voter-adopted program for collecting DNA identification information from felony arrestees. Mongan was the lead advocate who successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit in defense of California’s preliminary injunction blocking the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; that injunction has allowed 473,000 individuals to renew their DACA status since the Trump Administration unlawfully attempted to terminate the program. Prior to joining the California Department of Justice, Mongan worked at a private law firm in San Francisco, where he focused on complex civil litigation and appeals and filed pro bono amicus briefs in criminal and civil appellate proceedings. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Counsel to Vice President Joe Biden during the first two years of the Obama administration; clerked for Judge Merrick Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; clerked for Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court; and worked on the staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. Mongan grew up in the Bay Area and currently lives there with his wife and two children. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School. Mongan will officially assume his new post on August 19, 2019. &nbs […]

  • Attorney General Becerra to Supreme Court: The Clean Water Act Regulates Indirect Discharges of Pollutants into Our Nation’s Waters
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 19, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    July 19, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a 14-state coalition, submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, et al., v. County of Maui. In the brief, the coalition supports the environmental groups’ position that the indirect discharge of wastewater into the Pacific Ocean or any other waters of the United States, through groundwater or another similar conduit, is prohibited by the Clean Water Act. “Our oceans and waters should be free from pollutants such as sewage and wastewater – and we should have the ability to hold polluters accountable,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The bottom line is that the Clean Water Act’s protections should apply regardless of whether pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into our nation’s waters.” The Supreme Court granted review to evaluate whether the County of Maui’s wastewater, which is injected into groundwater that ultimately flows into the Pacific Ocean, should be regulated under the Clean Water Act. The state coalition urges the Supreme Court to uphold the Court of Appeals’ decision, which requires Clean Water Act permits for indirect discharges of pollutants into waters of the United States from a point source through groundwater or any other conduit. The Attorneys General assert that rejecting the Court of Appeals’ decision would not adequately protect the nation’s waters and may encourage polluters to discharge pollutants into groundwater that is connected to a creek, river, lake, or ocean in order to avoid Clean Water Act requirements. The state coalition also points out that the position advanced by the County of Maui – and supported by several states, numerous other entities, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – is inconsistent with the EPA’s longstanding interpretation and application of Clean Water Act requirements. California maintains a strong interest in upholding the Clean Water Act’s protections, including the regulation of indirect discharges of pollution. Such regulation safeguards California waters from out-of-state pollution. Earlier this year, the Attorney General and a multistate coalition filed a comment letter denouncing the EPA’s 2019 interpretive guidance, which would exclude from Clean Water Act permitting requirements any discharge of pollutants through groundwater into creeks, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Attorney General Becerra joins the Attorneys General of Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Massacusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in filing the amicus brief. A copy of the amicus brief is available here. […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Files Brief in Supreme Court in Support of Sierra Club in Border Wall Case
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 19, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    July 19, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govCalifornia and New Mexico oppose Trump Administration’s attempt to rush construction before appeal can be heard SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, along with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Sierra Club and opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to overturn an injunction issued by the district court pending appeal in Sierra Club v. Trump. The Trump Administration seeks to reverse a previous ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California blocking the Administration from unlawfully diverting $2.5 billion of Department of Defense funding not authorized for a border wall. On July 3, 2019, the Ninth Circuit denied the Trump Administration’s emergency motion for stay of the injunction. “Allowing the Trump Administration to move forward with construction of an unlawful and disputed border wall would cause severe harm to our states,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Once this damage is done, it cannot be undone. We ask the Supreme Court to reject this impatient attempt by the federal government to rush President Trump’s previously rejected pet project.” The States’ and Sierra Club’s challenges to the border wall are currently consolidated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. In the brief, the Attorneys General assert that the states would suffer irreparable harm if the Trump Administration were allowed to proceed with the construction of the border wall in California and New Mexico. The federal government is requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court issue an order staying the injunction, which would effectively allow the government to begin building a border wall using unlawfully diverted funds before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals can hear the merits of the case. In the brief, the states ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the Trump Administration’s request for an emergency stay. They also present the unique harms to the states posed by the diversion of funding to construct the wall that was never authorized by Congress. The Trump Administration’s unlawful actions threaten the states’ sovereign interests and their ability to enforce laws within their borders to protect water and air quality, as well as wildlife corridors and endangered species.  A copy of the brief can be found here. ### […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Continues Fight in Duncan v. Becerra, Defending California’s Law that Bans the Acquisition and Possession of Large-Capacity Magazines
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 16, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    July 16, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra continued his defense of California’s restrictions on large-capacity ammunition magazines. Despite their proven effectiveness in preventing and mitigating the effects of gun violence, California’s large-capacity magazine restrictions were declared unconstitutional by a federal district court. In the filing, Attorney General Becerra defends the constitutionality of this important public safety measure before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting that the Court reverse the district court’s judgment and uphold the constitutionality of the law. “When it comes to keeping our communities safe and implementing common-sense gun laws, California will not go backwards,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Our gun safety measures have a track record of success and we will continue the fight to keep constitutional, commonsense measures on the books.” In California, it has been illegal since 2000 to manufacture, import, keep or offer for sale, give, lend, or receive large-capacity magazines—defined as those that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. In 2016, Californians passed Proposition 63 to enhance those restrictions by prohibiting the possession of large-capacity magazines. On March 29, 2019, the District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that this law was unconstitutional. Attorney General Becerra requested that the Ninth Circuit Court direct the district court to enter judgment in favor of California. Every federal circuit court that has considered the constitutionality of similar large-capacity magazine restrictions has held that they are constitutional. In today’s filing, Attorney General Becerra argues that California’s similar, common-sense restrictions do not violate the constitution. Large-capacity magazines have been a prominent feature in some of the most horrific mass shootings in this country, including the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks in 2018, and the shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino in 2015. When large-capacity magazines are used in mass shootings, more innocent lives are lost and more people are injured. Attorney General Becerra is committed to upholding the constitutionality of California’s restrictions on large-capacity magazines to protect the public from these dangerous firearm accessories. A copy of the filing can be found here. […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Joins Coalition Urging Federal Trade Commission to Ban Non-Compete Agreements
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 15, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    July 16, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govThe coalition also proposes more research on the link between labor issues and antitrust laws SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general, led by the District of Columbia, in submitting a comment letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling for greater consideration of labor issues in the enforcement of antitrust laws. In the letter, the coalition urges the FTC to use its authority to stop the use of non-compete, non-solicitation, and no-poach agreements, which, among other things, can prevent workers from seeking better pay and benefits by going to work for a competitor. The coalition describes how these kinds of anticompetitive practices hurt the wages of workers and harm consumers. “Our economy only works when it provides opportunities for everyone to thrive,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Non-compete clauses hurt workers, and the FTC has an opportunity to use its authority to foster a vibrant marketplace that benefits all Americans. In California, we’re already setting the pace with labor laws that protect against many of these harmful practices and we urge the federal government to follow suit.” Anticompetitive agreements are not limited to higher-wage, white-collar workers but are also prevalent in the employment of low-wage workers. These agreements are often between an employer and an employee, and limit an employee’s ability to work for a competitor. The coalition asserts that non-compete clauses and other related agreements prevent low-wage employees from seeking better opportunities and inhibit new companies from entering the market. The Attorneys General also note that the focus in antitrust review should not only be on the short-term price effects of a merger or other action, but also on the impacts to the labor market. In the letter, the coalition highlights the need for additional research on the interaction between labor and antitrust law to help strengthen antitrust review and enforcement. Attorney General Becerra is committed to defending workers in California and across the country and to pursuing vigorous antitrust enforcement. Last month, the Attorney General called on the U.S. Department of Labor to withdraw a rule on joint employment standards that would diminish protections for millions of workers throughout the nation. Earlier this year, the California Department of Justice, as part of a multistate effort, entered into agreements with major fast food companies operating around the country, prohibiting them from including provisions in contracts that make it more difficult for employees to seek better pay and benefits at competing franchises. In May, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s rule undermining collective bargaining rights for Medicaid in-home care workers nationwide. The Attorney General has also actively sought to tackle anticompetitive practices and, among other actions, has led lawsuits against T-Mobile, Sutter Health, and Valero to protect consumers in the marketplace. In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra joined the Attorneys General of the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.  A copy of the letter is available here. […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Rebukes EPA for Inadequate Risk Assessment of Dangerous Herbicide
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 12, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    July 12, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov2,4-DP-p, a harmful herbicide, pollutes California’s water systems SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, today filed a comment letter criticizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to properly evaluate the risk of 2,4-DP-p. This herbicide and its commonly used relatives permeate California’s water systems and present risks to humans as well as bees, birds, mammals, and plants. Despite these risks, the EPA is attempting to finalize a risk assessment suggesting the agency will not place any new restrictions on 2,4-DP-p. Attorney General Becerra calls on the EPA to reassess this harmful herbicide and account for its full environmental and health impacts. “Dangerous pesticides are polluting the water California families drink and use in their daily lives,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We call on the EPA to do its job and adequately regulate harmful poisons contaminating our water. The EPA is putting on its blinders and ignoring the science when it comes to ensuring our safety – our families and environment will suffer the consequences.” 2,4-DP-p is a herbicide used for controlling certain types of weeds in residential and commercial grass, on golf courses, and uncultivated public spaces such as roadsides, sidewalks, and rights-of-way. The pesticide is often applied via spraying, which can harm plants as far as 840 feet from the application site. In the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board assert that the EPA does not address the cumulative risk of exposure to 2,4-DP-p and other pesticides that share the same risks. The comment letter stresses the EPA’s unwillingness to measure 2,4-DP-p’s concentration levels in water resulting from urban runoff, a major cause of contaminated water systems. The letter also describes how the EPA deemed 2,4-DP-p safe despite the pesticide registrant’s failure to submit many of the toxicity studies the EPA required. A copy of the letter can be found here. […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Support Asbestos Ban, Blasts EPA’s Flawed Process For Evaluating Asbestos Risk
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 12, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    July 12, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govThe Reinstein Bill would crack down on all uses of asbestos, a universally recognized harmful carcinogen linked to lung cancer, in the U.S. SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a multistate coalition, today announced his support for the “Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019” (Reinstein Bill), H.R. 1603. The Reinstein Bill would prohibit the manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution in commerce of asbestos in any of its forms and reinstate an asbestos ban that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to adopt 30 years ago. Asbestos is one of the most harmful chemicals known to humankind, with no safe level of exposure. It is banned in more than 60 countries. It is linked to mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer.   “EPA’s recent actions demonstrate that the agency cannot be relied on to take the necessary steps to address the unthinkable risks asbestos poses to our health and environment,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Many Californians are at risk because the EPA refuses to collect sufficient data on asbestos, refuses to evaluate the major pathways of exposure to asbestos, and has opened the door to new uses of asbestos. Once again, the Trump Administration’s EPA is moving in the wrong direction. The Reinstein Bill covers all uses of asbestos and leaves no room for error. We need to force the EPA to do their job and keep Californians safe.”  Eighteen attorneys general voiced their support for the Reinstein Bill in a letter to the chairpersons and ranking members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter calls for stronger protections against exposures to asbestos, and urges Congress to require the EPA to report to Congress on the risks of legacy asbestos currently present in buildings and found on aging tiles, adhesives, and piping. EPA’s current plan to evaluate the risks posed by asbestos leaves gaping holes, failing to assess the risk presented by legacy asbestos, as well as imported raw asbestos, which the agency terms as a “naturally occurring substance.” The coalition underscores the Reinstein Bill as being especially important since the EPA has demonstrated its inability and unwillingness to address the risks asbestos poses to environment and human health. The letter also blasts the EPA’s Significant New Use Rule for opening the door to new uses of asbestos. The EPA’s new rule moves our country in the exact opposite direction we should be headed for this dangerous chemical. Attorney General Becerra filed the letter along with the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. A copy of the letter can be found here. […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Announces 28 Arrests in Operation Targeting Violent Criminal Street Gang Activity in Stanislaus County
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 12, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    July 12, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govMODESTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the arrest of 28 individuals as part of an effort to dismantle alleged Norteño street gang activity in Stanislaus County. In coordination with the Modesto Police Department, the operation resulted in the seizure of $15,950 and 21 firearms.  This joint effort is part of a multi-agency operation known as Operation Red Desert, which was the product of a six-month investigation that began in February 2019. The complaint, filed by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, contains charges of alleged criminal activity including: conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and robbery, attempted murder, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and gang enhancements. “Individuals who engage in criminal activity and sow fear in our communities must be brought to justice,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “California law enforcement will continue working together day and night to stop violent, dangerous behavior and keep our communities safe." “I am extremely proud of the tremendous effort put forward by all the allied law enforcement agencies in this task force in bringing these criminals to justice,” said Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager. “This is an excellent example of the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit working together with local agencies to combat violent crime and gangs in our community,” said Modesto Police Department Chief Galen Carroll. In the past few months, Stanislaus County has experienced an increase in unsolved homicides and robberies. The criminal activity is believed to be gang-related and to possibly involve members of the Norteño gang. This operation is the result of a collective effort by the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Modesto Police Department, and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation has led to the prevention of multiple planned robberies. The Special Operations Unit is a collaborative investigative effort between the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol that provides statewide enforcement to combat violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, along with intrastate drug traffickers. It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. […]

  • Attorney General Becerra Recovers Over $1 Million for California from Premera Blue Cross Health Records Data Breach
    by Office of the Attorney General on July 11, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    July 11, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the recovery of over $1 million for California as part of a multistate settlement against health insurer Premera Blue Cross (Premera). The settlement resolves allegations that the health insurer violated state and federal privacy laws arising from a 2014 data breach. The settlement was the result of a multistate investigation and includes $10 million in civil penalties, of which California will receive $1,002,814. It also includes significant injunctive terms requiring Premera to implement reasonable security to protect consumers’ personal and medical information and to maintain a compliance program. “Consumers who entrust their health information to companies deserve security in return. Companies have a responsibility to protect consumers’ private information, especially sensitive health information,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Premera’s failure to protect the private information of millions of patients is unacceptable. This settlement should send a strong message to companies with loose data privacy practices: it doesn’t pay to cut security corners.” The settlement stems from a data breach that was publicly announced in March 2015, where the personal information of 10.5 million consumers, including 400,000 Californians, was breached. The data included the consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, bank account information, medical information, and health claims-related data. Attackers gained access to patient data by sending fake, targeted emails to Premera employees. These emails contained malware that allowed the attackers to spend months compromising Premera’s inadequately-secured network. The multistate investigation found that the company lacked basic data security, failed to monitor its network for malicious activity, and disregarded experts’ warnings of security flaws. In addition, it failed to limit access to sensitive information, allowing employees without business need to access the information. The settlement resolves allegations that Premera violated each state’s consumer protection and medical information laws, as well as the federal Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), which established national standards and safeguards to protect personal health information. A copy of the complaint can be found here and the proposed judgment can be found here. Tags: Consumer AlertsConsumer Protection […]

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