GARDINER — Governor Paul LePage joined officials at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to reassure consumers that state and federal laws will help protect them from losses due to file breaches containing personal identifying information, such as the one disclosed this week by Anthem.
The Anthem breach exposed the personal identifying information of an estimated 80 million current and former members nationally. According to the company, information accessed included names, dates of birth, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, employment information including income data, street addresses and e-mail addresses.
“Although it’s unknown whether Maine consumers will be impacted by the Anthem data breach, I encourage people to closely monitor medical and financial records for evidence of identity theft,” Governor LePage said. “State and federal laws protect consumers from the effects of identity theft. The staff at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation is available to provide specific information.”
The Department’s Bureau of Insurance has been in communication with Anthem’s South Portland office. Anthem will directly contact affected individuals by mail and offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. The services are expected to be available in two weeks, for a period of one year, and will be retroactive to January 27, 2015.
Anthem established a dedicated website (www.anthemfacts.com) and toll-free number (877-263-7995) to answer current and former members’ questions about the breach.
The Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and Bureau of Financial Institutions provided the following information and suggestions:
– State law requires notification to affected consumers. Those consumers should receive a letter from Anthem within two weeks.
– The letter will offer free credit monitoring services for a year, with instructions on how to activate those services.
– Consumers can also check their own credit reports without charge once each year at the website www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If consumers notice any evidence that their identity has been stolen, they can obtain additional reports at no charge.
– Consumers can place a fraud alert on their credit reports, or for a small fee they can “freeze” access to their reports, blocking the opening of any new accounts. If a consumer experiences identity theft, the credit reporting agencies must freeze and unfreeze their accounts at no charge.
– Consumers are not responsible for paying charges incurred by an identity thief. Likewise, consumers are not responsible for charges or debits made by someone else on their credit or debit card. Upon first noticing evidence of unauthorized charges or withdrawals, consumers should immediately call, then write, the financial institution that issued their card.
– State officials recommend that if a consumer discovers evidence of identity theft, the consumer should file a police report with their local law enforcement agency, and retain a copy of the report. Maine law (10 MRS sec. 1350-B) requires that a law enforcement agency near a consumer’s home or work place must accept information about a crime of identity theft, and produce a report. The report is helpful if a consumer must later demonstrate that proper steps have been taken to establish the crime.
– Consumers should be vigilant in order to notice any evidence of identity theft or unauthorized charges. This includes careful reviews of online or paper credit card and bank statements, unexplained statements of accounts not opened by the consumer, and collection calls or letters on debts not owed by the consumer.