As I have been predicting for many years, we’ve now reached the point where it’s almost impossible for the average citizen to know when an email or phone call they’ve received following a massive data breach that included their personal or financial information is a scam or a legitimate offer of assistance.
Case in point – the Anthem data breach that was announced last week.
Before I get to the trickier details – details that you need to share with every friend and family member – let me say this up front loud and clear:
No reputable company will ever call you on the phone to offer credit monitoring services or any other fraud protection service.
If you take only one thing away from this week’s advisory, let it be the knowledge that scammers will flood the country with fraudulent phone calls following a massive data breach like the Anthem data breach which may impact 1 out of every 4 households in the United States. The scam phone calls are designed to steal money by offering services that will never be provided or duping victims into turning over credit card or bank account information.
If everyone across the country understood that reputable businesses never cold call victims or potential customers offering corrective services, fraud would be dramatically reduced. But, I can tell you with certainty, tens of thousands of Americans will fall for phone scams from the Anthem breach alone because they are not as knowledgeable and invested in protecting themselves as are members of the Self-Reliance Institute.
OK. Get the word out to as many friends and family members as you can because these phone calls are already flooding the country.
Now here’s the slightly trickier part involving the version of the scam that will victimize even more folks than the phony phone calls.
This scam involves fraudulent emails offering free credit monitoring services. If you click on the link in the scam email, you will either download malware (including ransomware or scareware) or be taken to a website that will ask you to provide personal and financial information. Either way you are harmed.
And yes, these scam emails are also flooding the country.
According to Brian Krebs, who monitors cybercriminals on a daily basis:
“Phishers and phone fraudsters are capitalizing on public concern over a massive data breach announced this week at health insurance provider Anthem in a bid to steal financial and personal data from consumers.
“The flood of phishing scams was unleashed just hours after Anthem announced publicly that a “very sophisticated cyberattack” on its systems had compromised the Social Security information and other personal details on some 80 million Americans.”
Now here’s where it gets complicated enough that people will get tricked.
“In a question on its FAQ page about whether it would be offering credit monitoring to affected customers, Anthem said ‘All impacted members will receive notice via mail which will advise them of the protections being offered to them as well as any next steps.’”
But please make note of this crucial point. The “mail” that victims will receive is snail mail (mail you receive by hand at home or at the Post Office), not email.
Let me repeat because this is critical, Anthem will not be emailing victims of the data breach with offers of free corrective or monitoring services. They will be sending out letters offering those services via the U.S. Postal Service.
OK? There will not be phone calls and there will not be email from Anthem offering free credit monitoring or any other corrective services.
And here are two resources that I’ve verified and you can trust for information about the Anthem breach.
The first is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that Anthem has set up. Here is the hotlink with the full web address: http://www.anthemfacts.com/faq
The second is a toll free phone number you can call for a recording of updated information about the breach and scams resulting from the breach. That number is 877-263-7995.
Finally, just because you don’t recognize the name Anthem as being involved in your health insurance doesn’t mean you haven’t been impacted. Anthem is behind and/or services many other “brands” of health insurance including, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare. Also, BlueCard members are impacted.
And to answer a good question I received by email this week from a member of the Self-Reliance Institute, former customers of Anthem and all the brands I just listed are potential victims as well.
OK. I hope this is helpful. Let’s get the word out to as many friends and family members as possible about the phone call and email scams resulting from the Anthem breach so we can save them from becoming victims.
And please, if you ever have a question as to whether an email or phone call you receive may be a scam, email me at[email protected] and I’ll respond as quickly as possible. I promise.
Be safe, secure and free!
Rob Douglas – Former Washington DC Private Detective and Dedicated Scam Fighter