CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Thousands of patients information is stored in a computer taken from UNC Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center in Burlington, after a break-in that happened in October.

The health care system said it's in the process of notifying all 24,000 people affected by the theft.

The company says on October 8th the building was broken into and the thief/thieves stole a computer which contained information on patients of the former “Burlington Dermatology Center” or “Burlington Dermatology.”

UNC Health Care has reason to believe that the stolen computer contained information about patients seen at Burlington Dermatology through September 2015.

The information was part of a password-protected database that included patient names, addresses and phone numbers as well as employment status, employer names, patient birth dates and patient social security numbers. It is not believed that any treatment, diagnosis or prescription records were kept on the computer other than diagnosis codes used for billing purposes.

Should patients wish to take steps to review and monitor their credit, they can place a fraud alert on their credit report by contacting any one of the three major credit bureaus. In an effort to protect patients from identity theft, patients are being offered credit monitoring protection services free of charge for a period of one year.

“UNC Health Care is committed to providing patients with superior health care services and takes its obligation to protect the privacy of patients’ medical information very seriously,” said David Behinfar, Chief Privacy Officer, UNC Health Care. “We have ensured that all remaining computers acquired from, or kept for use by Burlington Dermatology have been properly secured. UNC Health Care has also implemented process improvements to ensure that future acquisitions of physician practices include a process to properly secure legacy computers and electronic patient information.”“We want patients to know that UNC Health Care and the UNC Dermatology Center take their obligation to protect patient privacy very seriously,” Behinfar continued. “We are truly sorry that this incident occurred and sincerely apologize for any concerns it may cause.”

Patients who have questions or wish to discuss this further, are encouraged to call toll free the information line at (888) 356-0275 weekdays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.