Experts: Kids might be most at risk after massive Anthem data breach
Kids might be most at risk after the massive Anthem data breach. The company says it's too soon to know how many of its 80 million customer records were compromised by hackers, but there are ways you can protect yourself and your family if you're an Anthem customer.
Cyber crimes experts say it's a very good idea to sign up for something called a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze. The freeze makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
Melissa Lock was one of tens of thousands of human resources directors across the country that opened her emailThursdaymorning and saw a notice about the breach.
"It's out of your control," she said. "We take our measures in house to protect data and we trust others to protect our employees' data."
Lock is a human resources director for Schurz Communications - WSBT's parent company. Schurz has properties in several states, including Kansas, Alaska and Florida. Each property offers Anthem insurance to employees, and a health insurance data breach that compromised names, birthdates, social security numbers, addresses and income data is an HR nightmare.
"It hits home," Lock said.
Experts say her 9 and 11 year old children are more at risk than she is for undetected identity theft.
"Kids' information out there can be used to open accounts in the child's name, to apply for government benefits in the child's name," said Cyber crimes expert Eric Tamashasky.
And even worse, you might not find out your kids are victims until it's too late.
"It's really challenging for adults to unwind the problem you get with identify theft. Imagine what happens if the kid is 8 or 10. By the time they figure it out it could be years and years. They may start to go into collections on a 12 year old before anyone knows what's happened," Tamashasky continued.
The Federal Trade Commission says putting a protected person security freeze on yours and your kids' credit reports is a good way to fight mega data breaches like the one that happened at Anthem.
When you sign up for a freeze, you restrict access to your credit report. Most creditors need to see that report before they approve a new account and if they can't see your file they might not extend the credit to identity thieves. For now the Indiana Attorney General's office says it cannot be done online but through "snail mail."
If you live in Indiana you can get a credit freeze for free, keep it as long as you want and temporarilylift the freeze at any time.
Credit freezes are free in Michigan to identity theft victims who can prove the theft with police reports, but it costs everyone else a total of $30 in order to register with the 3 main credit agencies below.
Release from Indiana Attorney General :
Protected Person Security Freeze
A new consumer protection law took effectJuly 1, part of an ongoing effort by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft and safeguard their credit. Because identity thieves attempt to steal the information of individuals such as children who have clean credit history in order to assume their identities and perpetrate fraud, the new law offers a "protected consumer security freeze" that parents can use to protect their children from identity theft. Below are links to each credit agency's online information.
Experts suggest contacting the Indiana Attorney General to place a "Protected Person Security Freeze" on your child's account. (http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2411.htm)
Michigan Attorney General (http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164--182414--,00.html)