Posted On March 23, 2022 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches
On March 11, 2022, Highmark Health based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, confirmed that the company recently experienced a data breach stemming from an incident involving its computer network. The company reports that this breach released the personal identifying information of approximately 67,147 individuals. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the Highmark Health data breach on behalf of people whose information was exposed. As a part of our investigation, we are providing free consultations to anyone affected by the breach who is interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and what their legal options may be to obtain compensation from Highmark Health
According to some estimates, as many as 15 million people fall victim to identity theft each year. Many of these identity theft cases stem from data breaches such as the one recently announced by Highmark Health. On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and more than $1,300 recovering their identity. However, having your identity stolen results in more than a call to your bank to straighten things out. Roughly 83 percent of data breaches involve the exposure of sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, protected health information, home addresses, and bank account numbers. In the wrong hands, this information can be used to do more than take out loans or open credit cards. Some criminals provide stolen information to police if they are arrested, meaning an innocent person ends up with a criminal record. Others use consumers’ protected health information against them, threatening to release the information unless a ransom is paid.
By investigating the Highmark Health data breach, Console & Associates, P.C. hopes to help victims understand the threats they face and learn how they may be able to obtain compensation for all they’ve gone through and may need to go through in the future.
Highmark Health is the administrator for Highmark Health Plan, one of the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in the United States. Some of the plans included in the Highmark Health system include:
While many of the company’s customers are located in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and New York, Highmark Health serves customers and businesses in all 50 states. The company has over 35,000 employees and generates approximately $18 billion in annual revenue.
Data breaches are not new; however, cybercriminals have recently changed the way they carry out their attacks, making the risks more serious than ever before. Between 2020 and 2021, the total number of data breaches increased by 68%, from 1,108 to 1,862. However, over that same period, the total number of victims decreased. While this may sound like encouraging news, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, this is a function of criminals focusing more on stealing specific types of data, such as Social Security numbers, financial account information, and protected health information. Still, despite the decrease in the number of people affected by data breaches, there are more than 188 million data breach victims per year. Many of these are consumers whose identities are stolen multiple times per year.
Data breaches can occur in a number of ways. For example, phishing scams, malware programs and ransomware attacks are all common. In each of these cyberattacks, the hacker targets a company, usually with knowledge or suspicion of vulnerabilities in the company’s data security system. Once the hacker gains access to a company’s computer system, they can access and steal whatever consumer data they come across.
This highlights the important role that companies have in maintaining the security of consumers’ data. When companies store consumer data, they have an obligation to protect it. Indeed, by maintaining a robust data security system, companies are the only ones who can prevent a cyberattack. It is crucial that companies understand their responsibilities and take them seriously. Unfortunately, many companies have been slow to realize the importance of dedicating a small portion of their profits to taking care of the data they possess. By holding companies accountable for their lax data security measures through data breach lawsuits, consumers can send a message that their privacy is important.
If you receive a data breach letter from Highmark Health, or any other company for that matter, it is important that you give the situation the seriousness it deserves. While you cannot help the fact that your data was exposed to an unauthorized party, you can take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of becoming victimized further. However, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, just 5% of data breach victims take the appropriate steps after a breach.
Determine What Information of Yours Was Exposed: Your first step should be to carefully read the data breach letter to determine what type of information was affected. While this list provides basic guidance on what to do following a data breach, there are specific things you’ll want to do depending on the type of information that was compromised. Be sure to keep a copy of the data breach notification for your records.
At Console & Associates, P.C., our consumer privacy lawyers monitor all security and data breaches to help affected consumers pursue their legal remedies. We offer free consultations to victims of data breaches and can explain your rights in clear, understandable terms so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case. If you’ve been affected by the Highmark data breach or any other data security incident, Console & Associates, P.C., will investigate your case at no charge and offer you thorough advice about how to most effectively proceed with your case. If you decide to bring a case, we only get paid if you do. If your claim is successful, any legal fees are either paid by the defendant or come out of the funds recovered from the defendant. If your claim doesn’t result in a recovery, you will pay nothing.