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February 6, 2015

MADIGAN ALERTS CONSUMERS TO PHISHING SCAMS IN WAKE OF ANTHEM DATA BREACH

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today warned consumers who may be affected by the massive data breach reported by the health insurance company Anthem Inc. to be on the lookout for unsolicited phone calls and emails and begin taking steps to protect themselves against identity theft immediately.

Anthem has reported that phishing email scams targeting its customers have surfaced in the wake of its disclosure that personal information of customers and employees were breached by hackers. As many as 80 million records were potentially compromised in the breach that contain names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, email address and employment data.

Madigan urged Illinois consumers to be extremely cautious if they receive emails or unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from Anthem or claiming they can assist them with the data breach because they could be phishing scams. Anthem has alerted its customers that they are not calling or emailing them directly to discuss the data breach and are not asking for any sensitive personal information from them.

The scam starts by "phishing" for a consumer's personal and financial information by sending phony but official-looking emails that include links designed for the consumer to click on, which triggers malware to be installed on a consumer's computer to steal their information. Phishing scams can also originate over the phone when a caller claiming to represent Anthem seeks to extract personal or financial information from a consumer. The scams can result in identity theft in the form of numerous unauthorized charges on a consumer's account or new accounts opened in their name.

"Consumers who receive an email or phone call claiming to be from Anthem should delete it or hang up right away," Madigan said. "People who may be impacted by this breach should immediately begin monitoring their accounts for unauthorized activity. Identity theft is a serious threat, but incorporating a few commonsense precautions in your daily routine can greatly reduce the threat and any damage done as a result of a data breach."

Madigan also offered these tips for consumers who may have been victims of the breach:

  • Be suspicious of all calls, email messages, texts, or mail claiming to be from Anthem and seeking information from you or claiming to assist you with the data breach. Do not click on any links in emails claiming to be from Anthem, do not reply to the senders and do not provide any information on the website if you accidentally click on a link. Also, do not open any attachments that arrive in an email claiming to be from Anthem.
  • If you receive a breach notification letter, verify that it actually came from Anthem by calling its toll-free telephone number, 1 (877) 263-7995. Consumers can also visit Anthem's website to learn more about the company's response to the breach.
  • Monitor your accounts closely and report any unauthorized charges to your bank or financial institution immediately.
  • Check your free credit reports for unauthorized accounts by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Report any unauthorized accounts or other inaccurate information to the credit reporting agency immediately.
  • Place a transaction alert with your bank or financial institution for an amount that you choose. If you receive a transaction alert for a transaction that you did not authorize, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
  • Consider placing a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report by calling any one of the three major credit reporting agencies. This alert places a flag on your credit report which gives a warning to potential credit granters that you may be a fraud victim.
  • Consider placing a freeze on your credit report to block access to your credit report so that potential credit granters cannot see your report unless you provide them your secret PIN that you receive from the credit reporting agencies. Consumers must write each credit reporting agency individually. Instructions for placing a credit freeze are in our Identity Theft Resource Guide.

Attorney General Madigan also urged Illinois residents to call her office's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-866-999-5630 (TTY 1-877-844-5461) for assistance. The Identity Theft Unit has helped reverse over $27 million worth of fraudulent charges on over 37,000 Illinois consumers' accounts.

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