Data and security breaches are becoming more prevalent than consumers want to see, but one corporation has been put in the position of notifying its customers that a breach has been discovered - again. WellPoint, a leading insurance provider, has notified nearly 500,000 customers that their information - including medical records, credit card information and Social Security numbers - may have been compromised in the second data breach to hit the company since 2006.
According to company spokeswoman Cynthia Sanders, the insurance firm hired an outside corporation to install security measures and a consumer application tracker on their system in October. In March, one customer filed a lawsuit against WellPoint after going online and finding that she could obtain sensitive information of other consumers by manipulating the URL website address. More than 470,000 customers have been notified about the breach.
The issue may be reminiscent of a 2006 scenario, when computer tapes that contained the personal information of nearly 200,000 customers were stolen from an office in Massachusetts. In accordance with the precautions that were taken in 2006, all consumers who have recently been informed of the breach will receive free credit monitoring for one year.
Despite the insurers' steps to rectify the issue, some state officials are growing concerned over the rising occurrence of data breaches. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has made contact with the company, demanding to know how the breach occurred and the steps that were being taken to protect consumer privacy.
Citing a statement from Blumenthal, Bloomberg reports that the Attorney General believes that this breach is "only the latest in a disturbing series of cases where nonpublic personal information has been subjected to unauthorized access."
Additionally, Blumenthal suggests that company provide affected customers with two years of credit monitoring and identity theft protection amounting to $25,000.
Medical identity theft is the fastest-growing form of identity theft and possibly most dangerous. In addition to obtaining financial information from medical records, criminals can use their victim's health file to obtain medical services, prescriptions and surgical procedures. In the event that changes are made to the victims's medical file, they may inadvertently receive life-threatening medications on their next office visit.