Data Breaches: What you should know
Unfortunately, we live in a time when data breaches are not terribly uncommon. While we can’t alert you to every single time a business loses data, a recent breach to a health insurer could affect many of our members, and poses some significant risks due to the type of data that was stolen. The tips we provide below will be useful in this situation, but could be useful if you are the victim of any data breach.
The most recent big data breach was to health insurer Anthem, and has compromised the personal information of 80 million current and former policyholders—a quarter of the U.S. population. The data includes names, birthdates, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses, employment information and medical IDs.
While you may not know the name Anthem here in Texas, you may be familiar with some of the other names in the Anthem family of companies: Amerigroup, Unicare, Healthlink, DeCare, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield. All of these companies were part of the breach.
Anthem has started notifying affected people and is offering credit monitoring services. You can get more details about the breach by visiting a special website Anthem has set up to deal with this: http://www.anthemfacts.com/
If your information was stolen during this breach—or really any breach—there are some things you will want to do. Contact the credit bureaus and have them put a fraud alert on your account. Most companies hit by a breach will offer free credit monitoring, as Anthem has done, which will alert you to changes in your credit report. But the fraud alert will alert the credit bureaus that they should be more vigilant as well. The Anthem site above contains other suggestions as well.
One predictable use of stolen personal information is for thieves to attempt to set up new accounts with financial institutions or apply for new credit cards. Most financial services companies know to be suspicious of accounts opened using addresses not found on credit bureau reports, so the criminals may use your real address. Be on the lookout for mail from financial institutions, credit card companies or merchants that you do not typically deal with. Thieves may be able to use your personal information to access your existing accounts, so monitor those as well. Report any fraudulent activity you find immediately to the appropriate financial institution or merchant.
|Tim Grove, vice president of systems development, has been with EECU Credit Union’s information technology team since 1999, and is responsible for the programming and development of EECU’s website as well as all online and mobile services. Tim holds an undergrad degree in marketing from Oklahoma Christian University as well as an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington, and has served marketing and IT teams at companies including Canon, EDS and Halliburton.