Most people are familiar with financial identity theft, but did you know that medical identity theft is becoming much more prevalent as well? Medical identity theft is when someone uses your insurance card or social security number to receive medical treatment in your name- and it’s not a small problem. In fact, according to the Bloomberg journal, it’s a “problem that may affect as many as 1.85 million people in the U.S. this year,”- that is an astounding number. The problem with medical identity theft is that it cannot be resolved with a simple phone call. The victim has to go through a time-demanding process to prove the person receiving treatment was in fact someone else. It’s not only important to get the problem resolved as quickly as possible for financial reasons, but according to the Examiner website, “Mixed records can lead to a mis-diagnosis, prescribing the wrong medication and other medical problems.”
In order to protect yourself from being a victim of this kind of identity theft you need to be aware how medical identity thieves are getting information. Here are the top five ways that criminals are snatching medical identities:
Medical Insurance Cards
One of easiest ways for a criminal to receive healthcare under your name is with a health insurance card. The WebMD website noted how vital health insurance cards are to be treated with the same security as credit cards. That means not leaving your insurance information out where it can easily be seen. This also means that if your wallet does get stolen, you need to report it to your health insurance company as well as your credit card company. The sooner they’re aware of the situation, the sooner they can prevent someone from using your information to receive treatment.
Believe it or not, experts estimate that as many as 50 percent of medical identity theft cases are from family members. It’s very important that you don’t let anyone use your medical ID card for any reason. The costs can be detrimental to you financially and medically for your home and personal safety.
Now that you know how thieves steal medical identities, you can be proactive about keeping information safe. More often than not, the first way people realize they’re victims of identity theft is when they receive calls from bill collectors for treatment they didn’t receive. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening to you is by using a company like Lifelock to safeguard your identity. They will be notified right away if your identity is being used for something that you didn’t authorize, and will alert you immediately- you have a much better chance of getting the problem resolved quickly. Please pass this information along to your beloved ones so that they can keep medical identities safe as well.
Most insurance companies mail out EOB statements after you have received treatment. These statements can easily be intercepted in the mail, and provide thieves with the information they need to use your medical identity. If possible, sign up for paperless EOB statements through your insurance company.
Hacking Medical Office Computer
Another popular way that criminals obtain information is by hacking medical office computers- you should only give personal information to people that really need it.
Hacking Personal Computers
Medical thieves can also find all of the information they would need by hacking personal computers, the best way to prevent this from happening is by entering your information on secure websites and always having anti-virus software installed- don’t trust low-quality webpages.
Cherie Gorden Cherie worked for several investment companies throughout college and now does freelance and editing for several financial blogs and forums.