The Los Angeles Fire Department recently began informing past patients that their personal data, including Social Security numbers and birthdates, were exposed as a result of a data breach at a city contractor.

"The city's ambulance billing duties are handled by Advanced Data Processing Inc., which received nearly $6 million from the Fire Department between June 2011 and Oct. 30, according to City Controller Wendy Greuel. ... In its notification letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, the Fire Department said patient information was used to file fraudulent tax returns as part of a scheme to illegally obtain tax refunds," writes The Los Angeles Times' David Zahniser. "The department advised the potential victims to call the IRS to determine whether false returns had been filed in their names, and to take steps to protect their credit rating."

"The investigation comes after an employee of private contractor Advanced Data Processing Inc. ... admitted to accessing individual account information for an estimated 900 ambulance riders, according to LAFD officials," CBS Los Angeles reports.

"ADPI spokeswoman Lisa MacKenzie said notification letters were sent by the company nationwide," writes The Contra Costa Times' Dakota Smith. "The only people who would have been impacted in Los Angeles would be those who may have taken an ambulance, either an LAFD one or one operated by another company that uses the company's services. 'It's always a drag for anything like this to happen,' MacKenzie said. 'The company is doing everything that they can to provide information and resources for anyone who may have been affected.'"