UNC Health Care officials have begun notifying approximately 24,000 patients of a “privacy incident.”

A break-in at the UNC Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center in Burlington resulted in the theft of a computer “which contained information on patients,” according to a release. The center – formerly known as Burlington Dermatology Center or Burlington Dermatology – is located on Vaughn Road and was acquired by UNC Health Care in 2015.

The information on the stolen computer was “part of a password-protected database that included patient names, addresses and phone numbers as well as employment status, employer names, patient birthdates and patient social security numbers.”

The computer which was stolen contained information about patients that had been seen at Burlington Dermatology through September 2015.

Patients are being offered credit monitoring protection services free of charge for one year, according to a release, in an effort to prevent identity theft.

“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,” UNC Health Care chief privacy officer David Behinfar said in a release. “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.”

Patients can also place a fraud alert on their credit reports, if they would like to take additional protective steps.

“We want patients to know that UNC Health Care and the UNC Dermatology Center take their obligation to protect patient privacy very seriously,” Behinfar said. “We are truly sorry that this incident occurred and sincerely apologize for any concerns it may cause.”

Patient questions can be directed to UNC Health Care officials by calling (888) 356-0275 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.