Medibank customers whose personal information was uploaded online say they were left without assistance and compensation, while at the same time being asked to pay their premiums or lose insurance coverage.
- Stolen data from Medibank customers has been leaked onto the dark web
- The breach has hidden financial and emotional costs, customers said
- Some are calling for more answers on how it happened and more support
Veronica Bloom broke down in tears when she received confirmation that her personal information had been uploaded to the dark web.
She is one of hundreds of thousands of customers whose health records are being stolen.
“Just when I thought I would find a happy place in my life with my daughters and I, it has come,” she said.
“It just made everything worse – the anxiety, the insomnia, the anxiety.
“I’m not even in the White Pages because I don’t want to be that exposed.
“If people don’t have the right support around them, Medibank Private will be in a worse situation than Robodebt and people’s lives will be at risk.”
Ms Bloom said that while many people are not overly concerned about their data being uploaded online, she wanted to speak out about the hidden financial and emotional costs the breach was having for many customers who now have genuine concerns about their safety.
She told ABC News she had to “beg” Medibank to reimburse her for the new security measures she needed to install in her home.
“I’m actually pretty emotional because it’s just so scary,” she said.
Despite the additional costs she incurred, she said she was told she would have to continue paying her health insurance premiums or lose coverage.
“They should definitely wait a few months for this debacle to be resolved,” Ms Bloom said.
“We have insurance coverage for certain conditions in our family.
“If we let this membership expire or if we change providers, we will have to restart the waiting period for it [condition].
“I feel like they put me over a barrel.”
“I just feel caught”
Melanie Gregor – who was implicated in the data breaches at Medibank, Optus and Woolworths – said she received limited information and no support.
“I think Medibank was probably the worst; I actually want to know firsthand how they’re going to help me get through this,” she said.
“It’s a huge inconvenience and now it’s costing us financially.
“For me, switching to another provider costs me money for registration, and I also lose my waiting times.
“It’s pretty unfair … I just feel caught.”
Medibank has previously confirmed that nearly 500,000 health claims were stolen along with personal information when the unnamed group hacked into its system weeks ago.
About 9.7 million current and former customers are affected.
Ms Gregor said she didn’t feel Medibank took enough responsibility for their role in the data breach and she was tired of hearing that they were victims of a cyber attack.
“First of all, how did it happen?” she said.
“You have saved personal data.
“It just seems like a way out and not getting down to the individual level and actually figuring out what we need to help each other.”
A Medibank spokeswoman urged anyone who needs assistance to call the company.
“We have established a cyber support program for our customers that includes identity protection, financial assistance and mental health support,” she said.
“We have also been proactive in reaching out to all clients we know to be in vulnerable situations, such as domestic violence, and providing support where needed.”
Breach exposes privacy gap
Attorney George Newhouse – who is organizing a class action lawsuit against Medibank – said he was “overwhelmed” by concerned customers “not receiving enough support”.
“There is a divide in our society; there’s a group of people who aren’t concerned about their privacy, but then there are others who are very, very concerned,” he said.
“Domestic violence survivors hiding from abusive partners, individuals afraid of stalkers.
“You have police, politicians, journalists and others who don’t want their private data online.”
Mr Newhouse said Medibank should financially help people move – or increase security – if their safety is now at risk “as a bare minimum”.
He said there were others who feared they could lose their jobs or relationships because their sensitive medical information was uploaded online.
More than 20,000 current and former customers had expressed interest in joining the class action lawsuit, with trials expected to begin in the next few weeks.
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