NEW YORK—Optometrists and optometry students nationwide are being targeted in a far-reaching data breach involving Chase Amazon credit cards. Reports of the breach began surfacing this week from ODs and students who have received unsolicited Chase Amazon credit cards in the mail. Some say they have been notified of fraud alerts by credit monitoring services after suspected cyberattackers tried to open up accounts in cardholders’ names.

Although the source of the breach is unknown and its full scope has yet to be determined, the American Optometric Association (AOA), the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the Association for Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), and National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) were quick to assure members that their databases have not been hacked.

In a message posted Aug. 2 on the AOA website, the organization told members, “AOA is aware of reports that suggest cyberattackers have opened or attempted to open Chase credit accounts in doctors' and students' names with some receiving denial letters or approved cards. An immediate investigation into AOA's own databases was conducted, and AOA confirms it is not the source of this potential data breach.”

Barbara L. Horn, OD, AOA secretary-treasurer, said members should feel assured that AOA employs stringent cybersecurity measures to protect personal information, and additionally, AOA neither gathers nor stores Social Security numbers.

AOA advised victims of the suspected data breach to call (888) 247-4080 (the Amazon Rewards Chase card contact number) to check and see if they have been affected, and the Chase Fraud contact number (877) 470-9042, to ensure the application is canceled and reported as fraud.

ASCO executive director Dawn Mancuso told VMail that ASCO has conducted a review with the third-party vendors that maintain its data bases for optometry school applications and exams, and has confirmed that those data bases were not breached. “We’re trying to figure out how this happened,” said Mancuso. “We reached out to the FBI, and are communicating with the deans and presidents of the optometry schools as well as with other optometric organizations,” she said.

Mancuso also told VMail, “We received confirmation from our three vendors for our OAT (Optometry Admission Test), ORMatch (Optometry Residency Match) and OptomCAS (Optometry Centralized Application Service) programs, and none were able to find any evidence of activity that would have led to a breach of data security or the release of personal information that could fraudulently be used to open the multitudes of credit card accounts that have come to light over the last few days.

“This is a very serious issue, and ASCO and its vendors follow strict security guidelines whenever and wherever we collect sensitive personal information. We stand ready to do all we can to help the community and law enforcement officials find the source of the breach.”

The AAO posted a message on its site indicating that it does not store social security numbers in its membership or registration databases, and noted that the breach has affected many individuals who do not have records in its database.

A message posted by NBEO on its site stating that “after a thorough investigation and extensive discussions with involved parties, the NBEO has concluded that our information systems have not been compromised.”