A health insurance provider in California recently agreed to the terms of a settlement with the state attorney general regarding its role in a data breach
earlier this year.
Anthem Blue Cross suffered a data breach earlier this year as a result of its printing the Social Security numbers of recipients of letters related to its Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D programs between April 2011 and March 2012, according to a report from the office of state attorney general Kamala Harris
. In all, more than 33,000 subscribers to these programs had their personal data compromised.
As a consequence, California said the business violated state laws related to how companies or other organizations are supposed to protect consumers' Social Security numbers, the report said. In the immediate wake of the incident, Anthem sent affected customers letters notifying them that their personal information had been exposed, and offered a year of free credit monitoring to help remediate the issue.
The settlement, which was agreed upon and filed at the same time as the state's suit against Anthem, includes the company paying $150,000 in penalties, the report said. Further, the insurance provider will also be required to update its protocols for protecting the personal identifying information of its customers.
This includes new technical safeguards for its data management systems, and restricting employees' access to members more sensitive data, including their Social Security numbers, the report said. Further, it will have to give its workers and associated enhanced data security training.
"Our office is committed to protecting the privacy of Californians," said Attorney General Harris. "This settlement requires the company to make significant improvements to its data security procedures to ensure this type of error does not happen again."
An exposed Social Security number can play havoc on a person's finances if they are not careful, because it can so easily be used by criminals to commit identity theft
. For this reason, as well as others, it's important that consumers take the time to order and check over their credit reports with regularity, as it may help them identify accounts credited to them for which they are not responsible. Adam Levin
, the chairman for Identity Theft 911, writes on his blog about the types of fraud consumers may face in their everyday lives.
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