More than 80 million personal Anthem customer records are now at the mercy of unidentified hackers due to a data breach reported by Anthem Inc. Anthem is the second-largest health insurance company in the U.S. Anthem representatives say they believe the cyberattack successfully compromised customer names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses and employment records. Employee records also were compromised.
“Anthem’s own associates’ personal information – including my own – was accessed during this security breach,” Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said in a letter notifying customers of the breach. “We join you in your concern and frustration, and I assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your data,” the letter continued.
Many Anthem brands were affected by the data breach, including 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.
Although the hackers are still at large, some cybersecurity experts have reason to believe that state-sponsored hackers in China may have been behind the data breach, as they have been known for targeting health insurance companies in past breaches. Anthem describes the breach as a “very sophisticated external cyberattack,” and immediately employed Mandiant, a leader in the cybersecurity industry, to work with federal law enforcement agencies and investigate what exactly happened.
In addition to the data breach, Anthem customers are now being targeted by e-mail scams directing past and present Anthem customers to sign up for fake credit protection services. A statement from Anthem warned customers of the e-mail scams and urges those e-mailed to not to click any of the links attached, despite the authentic appearance of the message. In order to avoid any confusion, Anthem promises that it will only contact current and former members through U.S. Postal mail, never e-mail.
Anyone believed to be covered by any of the companies in the Anthem family, or who were covered by them in the past, should take the following precautions to protect their personal information:
- Continually monitor your bank accounts. Any unauthorized activity should immediately be reported to your bank. Keep close records of what occurs as to best keep damages at a minimum.
- Sign up for Anthem’s free identity theft protection and credit alerts. Anthem is giving all of its affected customers free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services, but you must sign up as soon as possible to get the most use from the company’s offer.
- File your taxes early. Anthem’s data breach included all of the customer information needed for a criminal to claim your tax refund. File your taxes as soon as possible to prevent any problems from occurring later on.
- Utilize a password manager and two-factor authentication. By using multiple complex passwords that contain a series of letters, numbers and symbols, you can make hacking your accounts much more difficult. Two-factor authentication ensures that even if hackers manage to crack your password, they would still be required to get through another gate of security.
Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Consumer Fraud section are handling claims for losses on behalf of consumers and financial institutions related to data breaches. We are currently involved in cases resulting from the Target and Home Depot data breaches. If you feel you have a claim related to the Anthem data breach, contact Larry Golston, or Dee Miles or fill out the contact form on our website for a free evaluation of your claim.