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Resources and Expertise to Combat Identity Theft, Scams, and Social Engineering
Medical Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft in the United States today. Medical identity thieves can leave you with medical bills for thousands of dollars of medical treatment while also altering your medical records in a way that could jeopardize your life. identitytheft.info worked with Identity Theft Expert Bob Sullivan of MSNBC to create this video warning consumers about the dangers of Medical Identity Theft.
Imagine you’re rushed to the hospital while unconscious.
As the doctor in the emergency room assesses your condition, she quickly reviews what she believes to be your medical record on file at the hospital. The doctor reads that during a previous admission you indicated you’re not allergic to the medication she believes will be most beneficial for your current diagnosis. Relying on the prior medical record, the doctor administers that drug which – in reality – you’re severely allergic to.
Unknown to you and the doctor, someone previously stole your identity for the purpose of receiving medical treatment without paying and created a false medical record.
You’re fighting for your life because you’re the victim of medical identity theft.
According to the most recent official government statistics, approximately 250,000 people are victims of medical identity theft each year in the United States. Arguably, this number significantly understates the overall number of potential instances of medical identity theft. For example, in June of 2008 the University of Utah Hospital announced the personal information of 2.2 million patients had been stolen.
And while each case does not result in life threatening consequences, there is no doubt medical identity theft is one of the most damaging and potentially dangerous forms of identity theft.
In addition to the possibility of receiving incorrect treatment due to medical identity theft, there are a number of other potential consequences when someone steals your personal information in order to obtain medical care, pharmaceutical services or even insurance coverage. These include
False medical and pharmaceutical bills
False health insurance claims
Denial of health insurance claims
Denial of health insurance coverage
Denial of life insurance claims
Denial of life insurance coverage
Denial of employment based on false medical history
Time and expense correcting false patient records
Time and expense correcting false insurance records
Until recently, little attention was paid to the growing threat medical identity theft presents to our health and security. In June of 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology retained the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton to investigate medical identity theft in the United States. The goal of the study is to create prevention, detection and recovery methods and to develop best practice procedures for the medical industry.
But in the meantime, because medical identity theft has received scant attention compared to other forms of identity crimes, it can be the most difficult form of identity theft to prevent or detect. While there is a significant segment of the consumer protection industry that has developed to assist in protecting financial services customer records such as credit reports, credit card transaction records, bank and investment account data, there are no specific services available to monitor and safeguard your medical records.
Consequently, each of us must individually take steps to protect our medical information. Just as it is advisable to personally monitor your financial records (even if you do use commercial services), you should regularly monitor your medical records and account information with particular attention to invoices and insurance claims (both paper and online) in order to avoid becoming one of the growing number of medical identity theft victims.
For more information on how to combat all forms of identity theft – including medical – please visit our ID Theft Prevention, Protection and Recovery categories.
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If so, we invite you to learn more about identity theft and scam expert Rob Douglas.