Our CBS 13 newsroom and On Your Side hotline (207-228-7713) have been busy today answering questions from concerned Anthem customers. According to the Bangor Daily News, Anthem is the state’s biggest private health insurer and has more than 300,000 members across the state.
Even if you aren’t an Anthem member now, Anthem said in a statement personal information was stolen from current and former members. While Anthem isn’t saying the exact number of people impacted, reports suggest hackers broke into the health insurance database storing information for about 80 million people.
Calling it a “very sophisticated external cyber attack,” Anthem President and CEO Joseph Swedish said attackers obtained sensitive, personal information – names, birthdays, medical IDs/social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data.
“What’s most alarming is the fact it involves social security numbers. As we know the social [security number] is the key to the kingdom. It allows bad guys to open up new lines of credit under the victims’ names,” HotSpot Shield Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano told CBS 13 News Thursday.
Anthem is promising to offer free identity protection services and free credit monitoring to customers who are impacted.
But there’s no need to wait for Anthem; take steps now.
Request a Fraud Alert
Request an initial 90 day fraud alert on your credit file. This will flag your account so lenders and others will know to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing any new credit. Any of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, Experian – can initiate the fraud alert and let the other bureaus know.
Sign up for a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze offers more protection than a fraud alert. It will stop all credit from being issued unless you notify the bureaus first.
“A security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent; however, using a security freeze may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent requests or applications regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, insurance, government services or payments, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular phone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transaction, or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale,” according to Experian.
It costs $10 to place a security freeze on a credit report. However, if you’re a victim of identity theft and submit a valid report the bureaus will waive the fee.
File Taxes Now
Identity theft experts suggest you file your taxes as soon as possible. File now before scammers steal your refund by filing your taxes using the information obtained in the breach.
Keep Your Guard Up / Monitor Accounts
“With credit card numbers consumers can just get a new credit card number; whereas when a social security number is compromised consumers can’t just go get a new number. Your number is vulnerable from this point on,” Siciliano said.
Monitor all your financial accounts for any suspicious activity or unauthorized transactions. At this point, we just don’t know when, where, and how this stolen information will be used.
Anthem has also set-up a website to answer questions.