Protect your credit

Contact one of the following credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report:

Equifax:

800-685-1111

www.freeze.equifax.com

Experian:

888-397-3742

www.experian.com/freeze

TransUnion:

800-680-7289

www.freeze.transunion.com

Patient information kept at eight South Carolina hospitals has been compromised by a massive security breach impacting an estimated 4.5 million consumers nationwide.

None of the hospitals named in the alert are located in Charleston.

They are Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville; Carolinas Hospital System in Florence; Carolinas Hospital System in Mullins; Chester Regional Medical Center; Chesterfield General Hospital; Marlboro Park Hospital in Bennettsville; Mary Black Memorial Hospital in Spartanburg; and Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster.

All of these facilities are part of the Community Health Systems network.

An alert issued by the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs reports that names, birthdays, telephone numbers and addresses were stolen.

The communications team at Springs Memorial Hospital said Social Security numbers for some patients were also stolen.

The state is urging patients at these facilities to place an initial fraud alert and security freeze on their credit reports. Those services are free through three credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Patients should also track their finances for irregularities and be wary of scam attempts, the department advised.

This isn't the first time South Carolina patients have been threatened by a data breach.

The financial information for 7,000 Medical University of South Carolina customers was stolen last year when a foreign entity hacked data from an outside credit card processing vendor.

In 2012, the South Carolina Medicaid agency reported that an employee stole names, phone numbers, addresses, birthdays and Medicaid ID numbers for nearly 230,000 beneficiaries.

"Many American companies and organizations have been victimized by foreign-based cyber intrusions," a statement released by Springs Memorial Hospital said. "It is up to the federal government to create a national cyber defense that can prevent this type of criminal invasion from happening in the future."

A spokeswoman at the South Carolina Hospital Association said no one could comment on the situation.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.