Update 2/25: Anthem has revealed that Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans that Anthem doesn't manage were stolen during the breach. Anthem now estimates that between 8.8 million and 18.8 million people were compromised.
If you're insured by a Blue Cross Blue Shield location that isn't managed by Anthem, then your data may have still been stolen.
The world's second-largest health insurer just announced that it has been hacked early this morning. This is a huge story! One out of every nine Americans is covered by this company and its affiliates, making this the biggest healthcare data breach in history. You may not immediately recognize the insurance company name, Anthem, because it uses several different brand names in various states. One name it uses that you may be familiar with is Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Anthem says that hackers gained access to current and former members' complete personal information along with employee records. This could total 80 million people or more. The leaked information includes names, dates of birth, member ID and Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and employment information.
Basically, this is more than enough for online crooks to get start stealing the identities of anyone affected. That's why I'll explain the steps you need to start taking right away. But first, are you or someone you care about affected?
The company hasn't pointed the finger at anyone for this attack yet. What it does know, however, is which of its affiliate companies were affected.
The company released a list of its brands affected by the data breach:
- Anthem Blue Cross
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia
- Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Instead of trying to sweep the breach under the rug, Anthem did the right thing. The company immediately contacted the FBI, who praised the company as a "model for other companies and organizations facing similar circumstances."
If you've been following along with my security updates, then you'll know that these "circumstances" aren't rare. The Identity Theft Resource Center's 2014 report indicates that 42.5% of reported data breaches come from health insurers.
Anthem is fixing to offer free credit monitoring, but the company hasn't worked out all of the details yet. If you're anything like me, though, then you aren't willing to sit around while hackers use your family's personal information. Data breaches aren't shocking anymore. They're inevitable. The companies that we trust with our precious information often leave themselves wide open to hacker attacks.
The only way to keep feel safe is to take matters into you own hands. Breaches like this one are usually discovered when credit cards and Social Security numbers appear on the digital black market.
Here are the steps to take right now:
- Double check that your online accounts are not using the same email and password combination that you may have had stored with Anthem; change any that are the same as your Anthem details. This is exactly why it's never a good idea to use the same password on multiple accounts.
- Carefully watch on your credit reports. Watch out if someone is using your identity to take a line of credit in your name. Here's how to check your credit report for free.
- In the aftermath of a high-profile hack like this, scammers may send emails that look like they are coming from Anthem. Be sure you are closely examining these emails. Don’t click on any links in emails, and if in doubt contact Anthem to ensure it’s an official communication. See the clues to spot fake emails here.