Over a year ago, the nation's second-largest health insurer was hit with a massive data breach that compromised the personal information of more than 80 million customers. The 2015 Anthem breach exposed customers’ names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, medical data and addresses. However, one year following the incident, customers are still feeling the negative impacts of the cyberattack and remain at risk. Get LifeLock protection now.
Since hackers gained access to customers' confidential data, experts warn that it's still unknown when and what may be done with that information. And it could take years for the damage to surface.
While Anthem took steps to help protect individuals in the aftermath by offering two years of free credit monitoring, that's not necessarily enough to keep personal data secure and reduce the risk of identity theft.
Safer alternatives would be a credit freeze or an identity theft protection service.
Consumers can use a credit freeze to lock down their credit reports and prevent thieves from opening fraudulent accounts in their names. Luckily, making this move has no impact on an individual's credit score, since only credit reports are locked, rather than actual credit. This freeze simply prevents lenders from being able to access your credit reports to determine if you would be a favorable candidate for new credit — which, in turn, means that a cybercriminal wouldn't be granted access to your credit.
Who should consider a credit freeze? Experts say that anyone who suspects they were a victim of a recent security breach should weigh the benefits of a credit freeze, especially if you don't intend on applying for new credit anytime soon.
While security freezes are generally free for victims of a recent data breach, most states require consumers to pay a fee to each credit bureau to freeze their reports. Experts caution that a freeze must be set up with all three credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion and Equifax) in order to properly protect your credit.
In addition to a freeze, it's helpful to call your banks and credit card companies following a breach to be sure your situation is on their radar, should any suspicious activity arise. Changing all of your online passwords is also a must. Of course, proactively monitoring your credit reports and bank accounts is also a smart move.
Furthermore, it's wise to enlist an identity theft recovery program and monitoring service like LifeLock to better protect your data going forward. Protective coverage like this not only adds an extra layer of safety, but also gives you peace of mind knowing your data is being proactively watched around the clock, regardless of whether the next data breach hits close to home.
While no one can prevent all identity theft, or monitor all transactions at all businesses, LifeLock monitors over a trillion data points a day, alerts you through email and mobile devices if it notices suspicious activity, and has a team of dedicated U.S.-based specialists who are there to make the calls, file the paperwork, and take all the painstaking steps to help restore your identity if it ever is compromised.
In fact, this kind of coverage is the best restorative option if you've become — or are at risk of becoming — a victim of identity theft.