The news arrived just a couple of days ago that the country’s second largest health insurer, Anthem, has been the target of a very large data breach. The news reports say that as many as 80 million people’s information such as names, dates of birth, and Social Security Numbers have been compromised by hackers, likely from China. Thankfully, it appears that no credit card numbers or medical information such as diagnoses were stolen, although the other stolen information is definitely bad enough. This attack is just the latest in a growing trend towards data breaches against health care organizations, with the numbers growing from just 5 in 2010 to 42 in 2014. While seniors 65 and over have Medicare as their primary health insurance, they may have a Medicare Supplement plan through Anthem. Many others age 50 to 64 are covered under the vast array of products sold by Anthem and its subsidiaries.
This is frustrating for me on a personal level, too, because my group had health insurance through Anthem until last December 1, and we have already received notice from our benefits manager that our information has been involved. I noticed that I received a phony email offering me a “good deal” on a medication I don’t take at the email address I used for contacting Anthem. Could be coincidence, but…
Dangers to watch for include “phishing” and phone scams. Remember that “phishing” is when the scammers send out an email that appears to be from a reputable/credible source, in this case Anthem, but which asks you to click on a link in the email or provide personal information such as credit card numbers. The phone scams are similar in nature, asking for your credit card or Social Security numbers (remember also that this is a “Dead Giveaway” for a scam: Asking you for your personal information over the phone or by email).
NOTE: ANTHEM HAS SAID IT WILL NOT CONTACT AFFECTED PEOPLE BY EMAIL OR PHONE, ONLY BY US MAIL.
There have also been increased reports of income tax identity theft lately, including at the state level. While it’s not certain and no one has confirmed this, I have to wonder about the connection between the Anthem breach and the increase in tax identity theft. (For more about tax identity theft, be sure to listen to our most recent podcast episode at Scammercast.com).
Here are 7 Things You Should Do Now:
More information is almost certain to come out in the days ahead, so keep up with the latest news and be proactive in dealing with this mess.