The United States’ second largest health insurance company has been hacked in a massive data breach affecting 80 million customers and employees, and the company hired to evaluate Anthem’s security systems is calling it “the largest health care breach to date.”
The company announced that hackers gained access to members’ Social Security numbers, names, birthdays, medical IDs and other personal information, although Anthem doesn’t believe they stole credit card or medical information. The company is launching an investigation alongside the FBI, and does not yet know who was responsible for the breach.
“Anthem was the target of a very sophisticated external cyber attack,” said Anthem President and CEO Joseph R. Swedish in a statement to the public.
According to Anthem, members of different healthcare networks had information compromised. The networks that were possibly affected include 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.
You’re not completely helpless when it comes to data breaches, because there are still some things you can do to increase your security. Here are some steps you can take if you’re worried about the recent Anthem hacking:
- Ask for a credit freeze: Call one of the three U.S. credit bureaus and ask them to place a freeze on your credit report. This will keep anyone from pulling your credit report, so you’ll have to lift the freeze if you apply for financing such as a mortgage, credit card, loan or apartment. A freeze is often an attractive solution because it will keep identity thieves from successfully opening new lines of credit in your name. A freeze can cost up to $30 to initiate and $12 to lift, so it may not be a practical long-term solution.
- Monitor your credit: You’re legally entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Checking your report frequently is a good start but you may also want to consider enrolling in an ongoing credit monitoring service. With credit monitoring you’ll get prompt alerts when certain changes occur in your credit file. The sooner you know your information is being used, the sooner you can take action to resolve the fraud.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file: Call one of the credit bureaus and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. This means that creditors will double-check whenever someone applies for a new line of credit in your name. Fraud alerts are free to establish, but must be renewed every 90 days. If you’re a confirmed victim of identity theft, however, you can institute an alert that lasts for seven years.
Are you unsure of whether or not your information was stolen in the breach? Anthem is personally contacting everyone whose data is at risk, and you can also visit the Anthem website or call 877-263-7995 to learn more about the situation and how it might impact you.
The most important thing you can do, whether you believe you were directly affected by the Anthem breach or not, is to keep an eye on all your financial records and accounts. As soon as you notice anything strange, contact your bank and ask for more information.