Anthem was the target of a sophisticated external cyber-attack in which personal data for as many as 80 million (1 out of every 4 Americans) records for current and former customers has been exposed. This was caused by a database breach on February 4th. According to the company, the stolen information includes names, birthdays, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information.
The type of information believed to have been stolen is ideal for various forms of identity theft, including federal income tax return fraud, the most common type of theft, in which criminals use stolen personal data to file a false tax return with the IRS. The criminals might also look to open new lines of credit and obtain new credit cards in your name.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, stolen identity refund fraud prevents hundreds of thousands of American taxpayers from receiving timely income tax refunds each year and costs the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars in fraudulent refund payouts.
Anthem has already begun individually notifying those who are impacted by this breach in the form of a letter and will continue to do so within the next two weeks. Taking some precautions now can help protect yourself from the misuse of the stolen data.
If you receive a letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing you that they are reviewing your 2014 tax return, you should contact your accountant right away, especially if you have not filed your 2014 tax return. If tax fraud was committed using your personal information, you will be required to file Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS.
To learn more, Anthem has created a dedicated website (www.AnthemFacts.com) where you can access information such as frequently asked questions and answers.