Lindeen Urges ID Theft Victims to Take Advantage of Credit Protection Offers

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Just days left to get free identity theft insurance

HELENA, Mont. — With less than a week left for thousands of Montanans to protect themselves from a recent insurance company data leak, Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen is reminding affected Montanans to take advantage of the credit-protection services offered to them – including $1 million in free insurance coverage against losses related to the data breach.

New West Health Services reported in January that a stolen laptop may have put personal information of 25,000 past and present customers at risk. New West has mailed each affected customer two separate letters offering a year of free credit monitoring and protection, including identity theft insurance.

But despite New West’s best efforts, fewer than 15 percent of those affected had taken the company up on its offer as of March 28. Those who don’t sign up by April 17 are missing their best chance to stave off some of the risks of their data being misused, and giving up the $1 million of free insurance coverage.

“New West has taken significant steps to protect Montanans whose data may have been compromised in this incident,” said Lindeen. “But unless people take advantage of the services New West is offering, they will have no insurance against financial losses if their identity is misused, and they will put themselves at risk for serious financial damage. In this case, taking a few minutes now could prevent much bigger headaches later.”

Anyone affected by this breach or any other should have received a letter explaining how the data was compromised and how to obtain credit protection services. Unfortunately, most people pass up the offers.

Lindeen reminds Montanans to guard their personal data by checking their credit reports at least once a year, keeping a close eye on financial statements and using extreme caution online. People should never give out personal information such as Social Security numbers or bank account information to people who contact them online or by phone.

Lindeen served as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2015 and was instrumental in implementing a Cybersecurity Consumer Protections document as a member of the Cybersecurity Task Force.

You can read the Cybersecurity Consumer Protection document here.

If you have questions about your rights as an insurance customer, please contact the Policy Holder Services Division at the Montana State Auditor’s Office at 1-800-332-6148.