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Mega Data Breach at Health Insurer Anthem Hits Home

I'm the person who usually writes about breaches. However, I was a victim of the Target breach. And never did I think I would say that was an easy fix — but I went into my bank and asked for a new debit card. Done. So compared to the anxiety I felt when I received an email from Anthem Wednesday night, having debit or credit card information compromised is in my opinion, easier to remedy than a hacker gaining access to most of my personally identifiable information, wreaking havoc on my life and potentially making me a victim of identity theft.

The good news? As of now, it doesn't appear that  the "sophisticated external" cyber attackers accessed any of my medical or credit card information.

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That doesn't make me feel better because the bad news is that attackers did gain unauthorized access to Anthem’s IT system and obtained personal information from current and former members such as names, birthdays, medical IDs/Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data, according to the company's email.

Wow. 

But knowing what I do now about identity theft I wish my credit card information was all these hackers had gotten their hands on.

Being that Anthem Inc. is the nation's second largest health insurer and given the database infiltrated by the cyber attack, this breach could end up impacting 80 million Americans.

The impacted (plan/brand) includes Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink, and DeCare.

In the email from Anthem President and CEO Joseph Swedish, Anthem is working to identify the members who are affected by this breach and will mail letters to those impacted in the coming weeks.

If you are a potential victim of the Anthem breach, LifeLock offers these five tips:

  • Change passwords for email accounts, financial accounts and social media accounts. 
  • Order a credit report from all three credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on the report (Equifax: 800 525-6285; TransUnion: 800 680-7289; and Experian: 888 397-3742)
  • Call the Identity Theft Resource Center at (888) 400-5530 with additional questions.
  • Monitor transactions by keeping an eye on credit and debit card accounts, looking for any fraudulent transactions and report any suspicious transaction immediately using the phone number on the back of the credit or debit card.
  • If a retailer or employer offers free credit monitoring as a result of a breach, take advantage of it. But recognize that credit monitoring shouldn’t take the place of comprehensive identity theft protection.

The bottom line is that once a hacker has my Social Security Number, I consider that the keys to the kingdom, and that is very unnerving. LifeLock Blog Editor Cory Warren offers more consumer tips here, including advice from the Social Security Administration on what to do if your SSN is compromised.

I am glad that Anthem has retained Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, and that they are working around the clock to do everything they can to further secure Anthem's customers' data.  

I'm also glad I have LifeLock and feel a little more at ease that if I am actually a victim of this Anthem breach I will be alerted perhaps a bit quicker if I also end up becoming an identity theft victim.

Anthem has  created a dedicated website — AnthemFacts.com — where members can access information such as frequent questions and answers. The health insurance company has also established a dedicated toll-free number that both current and former members can call if they have questions related to this incident. That number is: 1-877-263-7995. 

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"I would compare LifeLock to having that big older brother."- Casey S.

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"All of my personal information, even my social security card, was taken".- Jamie A.


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