80 million records of current and former insureds, as well as applicants, were stolen in the Anthem data breach. Anthem is a BCBS affiliated insurer operating in several states, and also operating under additional names such as Empire BCBS. This includes personal information, such as social security numbers, including those of minor children.
The corporate answer to the Anthem data breach? To throw up their hands and apologize, and to offer credit monitoring.
You need to take emergency action to protect yourself against the Anthem data breach, and you need to do it immediately. Monitoring is not enough, you need to be able to respond to this danger.
Mere days after news of the Anthem data breach broke, though months after it likely began, there are reports of someone getting a mortgage and purchasing a home in a victim’s name. Even in the best of situations, mortgage underwriting tends to be fairly strict and require quite a bit of documentation. That means someone used a victim’s information to generate fraudulent residence history, income documentation, and piles of other paperwork that could be produced to the mortgage company over a period of weeks or months, and then went to closing and signed the victim’s name on a deed, a mortgage, and about a hundred other documents. A real estate purchase and sale transaction has nearly infinite moving parts. The Anthem data breach provided enough information to allow someone to fit all those parts together precisely and walk away “owning” a home.
So what does it take to undo damage that large caused by the Anthem data breach? Here are just a few of the frighteningly complex things that need to be handled:
- Prove that the fraud occurred
- Rescind the title insurance policy
- Void the mortgage (likely to require a judge’s approval)
- Void the deed transfer (likely to require a judge’s approval)
- Close and zero out any accounts opened in the victim’s name pertaining to the house, everything from water (easy) to alarm monitoring (difficult – this is a contracted service with hefty early termination fees)
- Remove the new address from the victim’s credit report
- Remove the new landline phone number at the house in question from the victim’s credit report, internet listings, phone books, etc.
- Remove all traces of the transaction from public record, to the extent possible
- Gather letters releasing the victim from obligation from all of the above, especially the bank or mortgage company
- Close the checking account that was likely opened at the bank that gave the mortgage – banks like to bundle products
Bear in mind that the house in question is a thousand miles from the victim. The vast majority of the above require some physical presence of the victim to resolve, especially those things that will require court appearances such as voiding the transfer of title and sealing those records. Even if the victim’s credit is largely not damaged, she’ll still spend literally thousands of hours cleaning up this nightmare. And this is a pretty straightforward situation because it was discovered early on. What if someone had lived in that home for years? It would be exponentially more difficult to undo the damage then.
The Anthem data breach has far reaching implications, and credit monitoring wouldn’t have helped, or even prevented, the above example of fraud. There’s a lead time between a transaction, initial reporting to the bureaus, and when the monitoring service picks it up. By then, the damage can often be difficult to unravel. The time and expenses involved in fixing these issues are massive.
But what if you had someone who would make the calls for you? Who could write the letters for you? Who could guide you through the process and track the things that needed to be done? What if that someone cost just $25 or so annually?
That’s called renters insurance identity theft protection. It’s an add on to your existing renters insurance policy which offers all of the above and more. In addition to trained people to help you through the process of undoing the nightmare that identity theft can cause, the coverage also pays for expenses related to solving the problem. How much will you spend on travel to get your name back after someone gets a mortgage in your name because of the Anthem data breach? What about depositions that cost you time from work?
The expenses can be crippling, and renters insurance identity theft protection is an incredible value for what it offers. The Anthem data breach is a wake up call that everyone should have this protection. For about two dollars a month, you can’t go wrong. Work with one of our friendly renters insurance experts to protect yourself today, before it’s too late!