Anthem Inc., the second largest health insurer in the United States, has suffered a massive data breach that exposed up to 80 million private consumer records. This is likely to be the largest data breach ever disclosed by a healthcare company.
Unlike most of the recent high profile retailer data breaches, Anthem discovered on its own that hackers had gained access to its systems and made an unusual proactive announcement to that effect. In a statement published on its website, Anthem acknowledged the broad scope of the breach and that Social Security numbers and other personal data had been compromised. There’s no evidence at this point that payment card details were exposed.
In a Q&A also published on its site, Anthem detailed the exposed data:
Initial investigation indicates that the member data accessed included names, dates of birth, member ID/ social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and employment information.
Anthem also detailed which of its health plans were affected:
The impacted (plan/brand) 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.
Anthem said it would be in contact with everyone whose information was stored in the hacked database with a letter and, where possible, email.
What to do if you’re among the tens of millions of victims?
You should take common sense steps to protect yourself. The exposed personally identifiable information is the sort of data used in security questions for online accounts. You should therefore check your payment and bank account activity for suspicious charges, check your mail for signs of new account openings, and be on the lookout for phishing emails or even phone calls that attempt to capture additional information that can be used for identity theft.
If you want comprehensive identity theft protection beyond the free package Anthem is offering breached customers, consider signing up for ProtectMyID with BillGuard – which provides monitoring of all three bureaus’ credit reports for new inquires (not just the one bureau monitoring offered by the Anthem package), new account openings and personal information changes.
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