Protect Yourself from Medical Identity Theft

Tips for keeping your health information away from thieves.

cybercrime_cybersecurityIf you have health insurance, you could become a victim of medical identity theft. This form of identity theft often happens when someone steals your health insurance card or some other personal information, and then receives medical care under your name. This is probably the most dangerous type of identity theft because the criminal’s medical history can become mixed with yours.

There are two common ways your medical information could be stolen:

  1. A lost wallet. Your member ID and insurance provider information are printed on your insurance cards, making it very easy for thieves to receive benefits under your name. If you lose your wallet, it’s vital for you to report a lost health insurance card to your insurance provider.
  2. Electronic medical records. Your medical information could be even more vulnerable due to the recent introduction of electronic health records. Unfortunately, criminals have a new way to access sensitive data.

What You Can Do

Medical identity theft can be very hard to prevent. This is because the criminal is likely to work in a medical office where they have easy access to patient records. However, there are a few things you can do to lessen your chances of becoming a victim:

  • Guard your health insurance card number. Make sure to report the loss or theft of your card right away so that you can obtain a new number.
  • Keep an eye on insurance claims. Read each Explanation of Benefits statement. If you see a service you did not receive, report it to your insurer.
  • Review your medical records. Have each healthcare provider send a copy of your records, and check it closely for any discrepancies.

If you’ve been victimized by a medical identity thief, file a claim with the Federal Trade Commission. Also, file a police report.  Furthermore, get in touch with the medical office where your identity was stolen so your files can be updated.

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