We know protecting information is especially important for people with lower incomes, older people or people with disabilities who bear an extra burden of information theft. Theft could cause money troubles, time spent that you don’t have or require extra assistance from public programs to make up for the losses. Preventing this disruption is what Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance is all about.

Every year, Multnomah County Dept. of County Human Services (DCHS) handles tens of thousands of pieces of Protected Health Information (PHI), like your name, social security number, address, and services you access. We recognize the trust you place in us when you share PHI, and we are committed to making sure your information is secure and HIPAA compliant.

How we keep your information secure

DCHS works to keep your information safe from the moment you first contact us.

Before you interact with a member of our staff they have already had hours of HIPAA and privacy training so they know what to do and what to say (or not do and say as the case may be). This training happens every year, so we stay sharp.

When we talk with you, we’ll ask only for the minimum information we need. Any information you give us is kept in secure databases. Our IT team spends countless hours making sure these databases, our internet connections, our email and more are secure behind a firewall.

If you were to walk around our offices (which are also secured with special key cards and locks) you’ll notice trash bins with locks on them. That’s where we store any personal information that is printed and discarded. Our physical files are secured and locked as well.

In addition to holding everyone responsible for keeping information safe, we have special staff members designated to hold everyone accountable and answer questions about keeping your information safe. We have a Privacy Committee to review our commitment to HIPAA compliance and safety.

We don’t share your information with anyone that shouldn’t have it. And you have rights over your information.

How we’re doing

The good news is all that work pays off.

99.999% of the time, your information is safe at DCHS according to an audit done in 2016. We do an audit every year to make sure that our numbers stay excellent and you stay safe.

What you can do

A 99.999% success rate is pretty good. In fact, there aren’t many things in our life that we can say are that successful. However, there’s still a role for you to play in keeping your protected information safe.

Here are some tips:

  • If you’re ever contacted by someone claiming to work for DCHS and you’re not sure if they can be trusted, always feel free to give us a call at so we can get you to someone who can verify the information.
  • Don’t give out your full Social Security Number (SSN) unless it’s in official paperwork that requests it. Often times the last four digits of your SSN are sufficient for staff to verify your identity
  • If you’re an older person, AARP has a list of 10 things you can do to keep your information safe

The first week in June in Multnomah County is Privacy Week. We’ll spend time learning about and celebrating our efforts to keep your information safe. But privacy is a job we take seriously every minute of the day at DCHS. In fact, it’s one of the most important things we do.