Friday, February 6, 2015

Health Care Hacking

Yesterday we posted about the apparently very large scale hacking of Anthem Blue Cross. Many UC employees have been covered by Anthem Blue Cross health plans through UC in the past.  It remains unclear the degree to which UC employees and retirees have been part of the hacked data.

The San Bernardino Sun carries a list of things you can do to protect yourself against ID theft as a result of this hack (or any other). Among them is to freeze access to your credit reports at the three credit rating firms. Yours truly did so some time back when UCLA lost a laptop containing employee information.  As the times article notes, it is a bit of a hassle to reopen access temporarily when you do something (such as apply for a new credit card) that requires a credit check. But it really isn't a major problem. So my personal recommendation is to freeze access. If you take the lesser steps, you will find out sooner than you might have that your info has been used illegally, but you will still have to deal with the consequences. If you freeze access, you will likely prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. It's your choice. Here is the Sun's list:

— Notify the credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and request a 90-day credit alert. (Each reporting agency is supposed to notify the others, but you may want to contact all three yourself.) The alert tells businesses to contact you before opening any new accounts in your name. You can renew the alert every 90 days, or you’re entitled to keep it in effect for seven years if you find that your identity is stolen and file a report with police.
— You might consider asking the reporting agencies to place a full freeze on your credit. This blocks any business from checking your credit to open a new account, so it’s a stronger measure than a credit alert. BUT you should weigh that against the hassle of notifying credit agencies to lift the freeze — which can take a few days — every time you apply for a loan, open a new account or even sign up for utility service.
— When your credit card bill comes, check closely for any irregularities. And don’t overlook small charges. Crooks are known to charge smaller amounts, usually under $10, to see if you notice. If you don’t, they may charge larger amounts later.
— Get a free credit report once a year from at least one of the major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion), and review it for unauthorized accounts. Ignore services that charge a fee for credit reports. You can order them without charge at . If you order from each agency once a year, you could effectively check your history every four months.

Full story at

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