Medical ID Theft
February 14th, 2012
Your medical records contain a healthy amount of personal data.
Medical ID theft involves stealing an individual’s personal identity information or health records and using it to obtain free healthcare or commit insurance fraud. Each year, it is estimated that more than 1.4 million Americans have their medical identities stolen, causing damage to their financial and medical health status. In fact, the average cost for victims to resolve their case is about $20,000, and collectively totals roughly $30 billion.1
Modern technology creates more opportunity.
With more and more medical records being stored electronically, identity theft criminals have new access through online hacking and malware efforts. Lawbreakers can get prescription drugs and medical treatment with only basic elements of a person’s medical records such as name, address and Social Security number. If they alter your medical records they can change information such as blood type, prior treatments, diseases and even allergies.
Discovery times are long and repercussions can be severe.
The New York Times reported that victims might not know their medical information has been misused for months or years, and that “victims may eventually discover erroneous information in their medical files during a doctor or hospital visit. And that may pose a bigger danger than the financial risks.”2
If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical identity fraud, you should contact the Office of Civil Rights of Health and Human Services, the FTC, your insurance company, healthcare practitioners, credit bureaus and your local police department.
1 Coalition Against Insurance Fraud
2 New York Times, Medical Problems Could Include Identity Theft, 6/12/09