A lawsuit filed in Missouri seeks class-action status for fail to safeguard sensitive data held by health insurer Anthem Inc.  A lawsuit first filed on behalf of a Richmond, Missouri, woman has been amended to add three plaintiffs who allege personal data stolen during the breach in December or January is responsible for fraudulent tax returns filed in their name, costing them a combined $6,753 in refunds.

The Missouri suit, seeking unspecified damages, estimates that 1.5 million Missourians could be part of the lawsuit, if a judge signs off on the litigation as a class action.  The defendants’ failure to ward off hackers, the lawsuit claims, “has carved a wide tail of substantial customer harm and injuries to consumers across the United States,” and “further instances of identity theft are certainly impending and imminent.”

Protecting patient health information is a critical component of any healthcare provider’s obligation.  Patients must be diligent, though, in monitoring their credit and bank accounts for any unusual activity which may be attributed to a growing list of data breaches.