If you’re like me and around 60-80 million other people, your personal identity information may have been stolen from the healthcare giant Anthem in a massive data breach by hackers, back in February.
The information obtained includes social security numbers, our names, birthdates, home addresses and some employment income information. Maybe you are wondering whatever became of all that? Well, I looked it up. I’m sad to say there isn’t a lot of great news, but here is what I found.
What is Anthem’s response to the breach?
Anthem is offering immediate ID theft assistance for anyone who has actually experienced ID theft due to the breach. It is also offering two years of free credit monitoring and identity theft assistance, and an insurance policy to those affected by the breach. The service provider Anthem is contracting is AllClear ID. This service involves customer service via telephone, credit monitoring and identity theft repair.
Who is eligible for protection?
You are eligible if you were a customer of the health insurer Anthem at the time of the breach in February 2015. You should be aware that Anthem, Inc. includes the following companies: Amerigroup, Anthem, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caremore, and Unicare. So you are eligible if you are a current customer of one of these health insurers, or if you used to be, as far back as 2004.
When can you start getting your credit card monitoring?
This services started on February 13, 2015. Shortly after the data breach occurred. I fished around the internet and I found very little information out there.
Why do you want this service?
You may want to take advantage of it for several reasons: it’s free; it certainly won’t hurt, it might help, and it’s not hard to enroll in it. Since crucial information, like your social security number and birth date could have been stolen, and that information will not change, you could be at risk for the rest of your life.
Where do you enroll?
You have to go online to sign up for the free service at this link: https://anthem.allclearid.com. This web page also provides links to two other related pages. One link takes you to the AllClear ID company page. The AllClear link is mainly AllClear ID company information. The other link on the page takes you to an Anthem FAQ page with some fairly helpful information on it. I found the FAQ page contained information and multiple links in case your identity is ever stolen. This is information you may want to consider bookmarking.
My enrollment experience
I recently signed up for the free insurance and the two year AllClear ID credit monitoring service. This was my experience. After finding out it was available, I went online, read as much as I could find and decided to enroll. I followed the directions exactly, and somehow my enrollment was not processed. I had to return a few days later and enroll again, and the second time, it worked. I now have access to the service and presumably, I have the insurance coverage.
I got an email within a few days of enrolling. If you enroll, give a valid email address. The email you receive will give you further instructions on how to enroll in the service. This two part process helps to protect your information. The enrollment process will require you to enter personal information, including your social security number (so they can monitor your credit reports) and your phone number.
There will be a test when you sign up, and you will get a robocall to your cell phone from AllClear ID immediately, to make sure everything is entered correctly. Do not accidentally spam-block this number. This is how you will get alerts if something suspicious appears on your credit report.
I have received a “Fraud Detection” report by email, to verify no fraud was detected on my credit report. It was a little assuring because I had not received any phone calls, and because the email verified it. I am sure there were no calls because there was nothing to report, not because they meant to call, but accidentally dialed the wrong number. I have not gotten any spam in my email or any sales calls on my phone.
How does the AllClear ID service help?
There are two parts to the service. One part is available without having to enroll, and that is if you are already a victim of identity theft due to the Anthem data breach. The other part to this service is available only if you enroll, and only for a limited time.
If your identity has been stolen, the service is already available and there is no need to enroll for help. If a problem arises (e.g. someone files a false tax return in your name, or someone opened a credit card account using your name and social security), you simply call a toll free number listed on the Anthem page, and tell them that you were an Anthem customer whose identity was stolen. The free service involves a customer service worker, called an investigator, who will work with you to help you recover financial losses, restore your credit and help return your identity to its proper condition.
If you have not had identity theft problems but you want to sign up for the 24 month free service, you will get the credit monitoring and an identity theft insurance policy. This insurance policy will help resolve issues with creditors whom were defrauded by any identity thief during the covered period. Having the insurance policy will help keep defrauded creditors from trying to collect from you, personally. And, the credit monitoring part of the service means that AllClear ID will be monitoring your credit report, calling you if they see any suspicious activity reported.
Is there anything else to know?
The AllClear ID service does monitor your credit reports for you but it does not allow you to get free, unlimited access to your own credit reports. You will receive a robocall if something on your credit report sets off the monitor alarm. If that happens, you will have to call an AllClear ID worker to ask them to check your credit report and tell you what they see. That’s not great. But, it’s certainly better than nothing, so again, do not spam block the AllClear ID robocall number, it is the only alert you will receive from them.
You can purchase your own credit monitoring service in addition to this free service Anthem is providing. Credit monitoring for a price is available through many sources, usually on a per month basis. Some sources may offer a free short trial period.
Finally, you can save your money by pulling your own credit reports on a rolling basis, one from a different of the three reporting bureaus, every four months, for free at https://www.annualcreditreport.com. Remember you can always pay a relatively low fee to pull your own credit reports more than once a year. Whatever you do, it’s a good idea to develop your own policy and credit monitoring practice now, before you have trouble.
If your information was comprised in the Anthem data breach, credit monitoring will not stop your information from being used and sold again and again on the internet black market or elsewhere. But, by being proactive and diligently exercising what control you do have, you can limit the harm you suffer if your identity is stolen.