Anthem pays $150K fine for data breach affecting 33K members

After violating California state law and breaching members' privacy, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has reached a settlement with the state attorney general, including a $150,000 fine and increased oversight of sensitive information.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a lawsuit against the insurer, alleging it mailed letters with Social Security numbers that were visible through the envelope window to more than 33,000 members between April 2011 and March 2012, reported Legal Newsline.

To settle those allegations, Anthem agreed to improve its data handling measures, including implementing new technical safeguards for its data system, restricting employee access to members' Social Security numbers and improving its employee data security training, the Central Valley Business Times reported.

"This settlement requires the company to make significant improvements to its data security procedures to ensure this type of error does not happen again," Harris said in a statement.

Anthem spokeswoman Leslie Porras said it considers member privacy important and has no indication that the Social Security numbers have been used. As a result of the privacy breach, Anthem notified its affected members and offered free credit monitoring and also developed a new alert system for sensitive policyholder information, according to the Associated Press.

To learn more:
- here's the AG statement and settlement (.pdf)
- read the Legal Newsline article
- see the Central Valley Business Times article
- check out the Associated Press article