If you haven’t already heard, then allow me to be the bearer of bad news. Health care giant Anthem, just got hacked…big time. Over 80,000,000 (count the zeros) current AND past customers are at risk. And this isn’t your run of the mill hack. This is the holy grail of a hack. Victims, which by the way could include yours truly, face a lifetime of risk.
Yes, since the data breach includes social security numbers and dates of birth, criminals can open credit in your name anytime they want. If they had simply stolen your debit card or credit card number, then you would just get a new card. But in this instance, they stole the skeleton key to your credit. Bad people can apply for credit in your name, whenever they want, for as long as you’re alive.
Am I being a bit of an alarmist? Not really. What I’ve just described is 1,000 times worse than the Target and Home Depot breaches combined. Your social security number doesn’t change. Your date of birth doesn’t change. Those are the two primary means of creating a gateway to your credit.
I gotta be honest, I’m more than concerned. I’ve decided to freeze my credit. Yep, you can freeze your credit and prevent ne’er do wells from accessing your credit. It’s simple. You need to contact each of the three credit bureaus, and ask them to freeze your credit. In doing so, you will restrict access to your credit for anyone, including yourself, until you lift the freeze.
I would not waste anytime here. Freezing your credit will not affect your current credit lines. It simply prevents new credit from being established. If you are are a current or past customer of Anthem, it is my strong recommendation that you do it as soon as humanly possible.
Here are five additional ways to avoid identity theft. It’s a must read.
Contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:
- Equifax — 1-800-685-1111 or online
- Experian —1‑888‑397‑3742 or online
- TransUnion — 1‑800‑680‑7289 or online
For more information and some FAQs, checkout the info here at the FTC website.
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Update (1:49pm est 2/6/15) *****The Anthem data breach may have just gotten a lot worse.
Update (8:00am est 2/715) ****How to proceed after Turbo Tax news
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.