UPDATE: As of March 31, 2015, W&L can only consider your case if you have experienced actual fraud. This would include unauthorized charges on your credit cards or accounts opened in your name. It also includes notification from medical professionals or facilities for treatment you never received, or from the IRS that your tax refund went to someone else posing as you. If any of these situations have occurred, please contact us at (800) 476-6070.
In response to yet another significant data breach by a major health insurer, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. plans to file a class action lawsuit against Premera Blue Cross and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska.
The firm plans to file the lawsuit on behalf of the 11 million policy holders whose private information may have been stolen and is accepting cases for review. Also to be named are Premera’s affiliate brands Vivacity and Connexion Insurance Solutions, Inc.
Individuals who currently have, or had, policies as far back as 2002 are at risk of having their personal information stolen and misused. The data breach affects any Blue Cross and Blue Shield members who were treated in Washington or Alaska; it does not matter if they reside there, according to W&L.
Massive Amount of Personal Information Stolen
The health insurer’s records, which should have been protected, were breached electronically. Hackers were able to access a wide range of private applicant and member information.
Confidential information that was taken includes: name, date of birth, email address, telephone number, Social Security number, member ID, bank account information, claims, and clinical information, according to news sources.
Weitz & Luxenberg points out that the data stolen includes even more personal information on each individual than was stolen in the recent Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield data breach, for which the firm has already filed a class action suit.
Victims Deserve Compensation for Any Losses
James Bilsborrow, an attorney with W&L’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection Unit and co-counsel of the upcoming litigation, believes that victims of these crimes deserve to be compensated for any current or future losses.
“The steps that Premera has taken — credit monitoring and identity theft protection for two years — are half-measures, at best. Premera should, at the very least, be assigning new medical ID numbers to prevent fraudulent medical treatment,” he emphasized.
He continues, “It is not enough to provide customers with monitoring services that will provide notice that a fraud has already occurred. Premera needs to do more to help its customers prevent the fraud before it occurs and rectify the fraud where and when it happens.”
Affected policyholders are invited to contact Corinne Sullivan at 212-558-5786 to discuss their individual situations. They may also choose to reach out online at www.weitzlux.com.
Identity Thefts Costs Billions Each Year
Identity theft is an industry that results in potentially billions of dollars of losses for policyholders and the companies they do business with. This access to private information also permits hackers to steal tax refunds in some cases.
Hackers can use the information, often sold on the black market, to open new bank accounts with the stolen identity. They can also perpetuate fraud and charge a large number of items to a person’s credit card.
Premera claims that it discovered that its records had been compromised on January 29, 2015, but did not notify the public until almost 2 months later. What’s even more disturbing, pointed out W&L , is that the attack occurred starting on May 5, 2014 — almost a year ago — according to published reports in the news.
“Someone has to take action and stand up for what’s right — to require companies that don’t protect the private data they collect to make reparations,” stated Robin Greenwald, head of the firm’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection Unit. “And our firm is ready to do just that.”