State agencies are investigating how a data breach affecting the personal information of as many as 80 million Anthem customers and employees happened and offering assistance for those affected.
In a letter to the health insurance company's customers, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said a sophisticated cyber attack allowed hackers to gain access to personal information including names, birthdays, medical ID numbers, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses, employment information and income data.
The data did not include credit card or medical information, Swedish said. It also included information from Anthem employees, including Swedish's own personal information, he said.
The company contacted the FBI to investigate the breach and hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to evaluate its systems, Swedish said.
It is contacting anyone affected by the breach as staff combs through records and has offered to provide credit monitoring and identity protection services free of charge for anyone whose data was stolen, Swedish said.
In addition, California Attorney General Kamala Harris recommended consumers take steps to protect themselves, such as contacting credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on social security numbers and prevent new credit accounts being opened, reviewing credit reports for irregularities, considering a security freeze on credit files, and being wary of phone calls from people claiming to be Anthem employees.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Insurance has opened its own investigation. The state agency said Anthem notified insurance Commissioner Dave Jones of the breach Wednesday night.
"Health insurers have not only consumers' financial information but also sensitive medical information," Jones said in statement. "Although early reports from Anthem indicate that medical information was not breached, the information reportedly taken does open the door to identity theft and fraud against tens of millions of consumers."
Any Anthem customers with questions about the breach can call their toll-free number at (877) 263-7995 or visit a special website about the breach at www.anthemfacts.com. Anyone affected by the breach can also call the state Department of Insurance for help at (800) 927-HELP.