Hackers have breached Anthem Inc., one of the largest healthcare companies here in California and the rest of the United States, compromising the personal information of more than 80 million past and current policyholders.
According to various media reports, hackers have gained access to individuals’ Social Security numbers, birth dates, names, employment, income data and other valuable personal information.
In a statement, Anthem officials say the company was the target of a sophisticated cyber attack. According to the statement, the attackers gained unauthorized access to Anthem’s IT system and have obtained personal information from the company’s current and former members. The insurance company includes several major Blue Cross and Blue Shield brands.
Although Anthem officials say there is no evidence so far that credit card information has been compromised, cyber security experts say the information that has been stolen is more than sufficient to commit identity theft or bypass security to lock you out of existing accounts. What’s worse, the risk is not short term as it often is when your credit card number is stolen. The hacker could sit on this information for years and strike when you least expect it. What this means is that former and current Anthem members who have been affected, will have to watch their backs for the rest of their lives.
Anthem’s Lack of Action
This is not the first time Anthem has had security issues. In 2012, Anthem Blue Cross settled a lawsuit brought by then California Attorney General Kamala Harris over a security breach involving 33,000 customers when it sent them letters with their Social Security numbers clearly visible through a transparent window on the envelopes. In 2013, Anthem once again exposed customers’ Social Security numbers in a document posted to its own website.
The company also agreed to pay $1.7 million to resolve federal allegations that it exposed health information of more than 600,000 people due to another security weakness. At the time, even federal officials noted that Anthem’s safeguards against security breaches were inadequate. In spite of knowing these inadequacies, Anthem has failed to take the steps necessary to protect its customers’ private and sensitive information.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself
There are several steps you can take right now to protect yourself:
- Monitor your existing accounts. Look out for any unauthorized activity or transfers on your current financial accounts, including 401k and brokerage accounts.
- Sign up for credit alerts and identity theft protection. Although Anthem has pledged to offer free credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected customers, don’t wait for them to complete their investigation. Sign up for a service or your own to snuff out any immediate identity theft attempts.
- Sign up for fraud alerts. This cautions lenders and others to take special care to ensure your identity before issuing new credit. Contact major credit bureaus and ask that a fraud alert be placed on your file.
- Remain vigilant. You don’t know when or where the stolen identities will be used. So, you will need to stay vigilant — forever.
The consumer class action attorneys at Bisnar Chase are investigating a potential class action lawsuit against Anthem. If you have Anthem health insurance or have had it in the past or are an employee affected by the breach, and are interested in potentially becoming a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, please contact us or call 1-800-561-4887.