UPDATE: As of March 24, 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.
Weitz & Luxenberg is looking into bringing a class action lawsuit against Anthem Inc. on behalf of the millions of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield policy holders potentially affected by a massive data breach of the health insurer’s electronic records.
Security professionals fear the Anthem data breach could result in billions of dollars in losses to Anthem customers.
Those losses would be incurred as a result of identity thieves using the Anthem data to plunder customers’ bank accounts, run up huge charges on credit cards, hijack tax refunds and more.
The Anthem data breach was disclosed on Feb. 4, 2015. Anthem said the hackers obtained customer names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and employment information.
Theft of Social Security numbers is especially troublesome because Social Security numbers may be used to open accounts in another individual’s name and commit tax fraud.
In addition, Social Security numbers cannot easily be cancelled or discontinued like a stolen credit card.
W&L Exploring CompensationThat Might Be Owed
Weitz & Luxenberg said it is interested in hearing from Anthem customers across the U.S. to explore with them their legal rights to compensation that might be owed as a result of the data breach.
It is estimated that approximately 80 million policyholders were affected by this hacking, according to Robin L. Greenwald, who heads Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection Unit.
“The recent disclosure of Anthem’s data breach is stunning,” she said. “Potentially impacted is every person with an Anthem plan.”
Anthem sells plans under the brand names of Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink and DeCare.
Anthem — the nation’s second-largest health insurance company — formerly went by the name Wellpoint Inc.
Customers’ Personal Information Was Not Protected
“The data breach is plainly outrageous because Anthem failed to take the steps necessary and available to protect its customers’ personal information from being stolen for untoward purposes — this breach was easily avoided,” Greenwald contended.
Greenwald explains that insurers have a duty under civil law to keep their customers’ private information secure.
“Anthem — like all insurance companies —must make best efforts to protect their customers’ information,” she said.
“Anthem is well aware of what can and does happen when hackers breach unsecured computer systems.”
Greenwald noted that online electronic theft of customer information is a gateway crime that leads to bigger crime — and bigger harm to the innocent victims.
“Once a hacker has a customer’s personal information, the thief has everything necessary to obtain credit cards in the victim’s names,” said Greenwald. “And that’s usually just the start.”
The Internal Revenue Service is also so worried about the Anthem data breach that it issued an advisory that urged Anthem customers to act quickly in filing their 2014 taxes.
The IRS issued this advice to help Anthem data breach victims preempt the hackers from filing bogus tax returns in the victims’ names to abscond with their refunds.
“You deserve compensation and identity protection if you were among the millions affected by the Anthem data breach,” said Greenwald.
“We are very interested in talking to you about what happened because we may be able to help you.”