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Medical Identity Theft

October 21st, 2014 Posted in Financial News

shutterstock_128774480Did you know that more than 1.8 million Americans became victims of medical identity theft in 2013, with an average loss of more than $22,000 per incident? Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses another individual’s personal information, which may include his or her social security number, name, birth date and insurance information, to obtain medical services, devices or prescriptions.

The financial impact of medical identity can include loss of money, unpaid bills, collection agency letters, and tarnished credit reports. It can also be a threat to the victim’s health due to inaccurate medical records and insurance claims, misdiagnosis, conflicting prescriptions, missed symptoms and other harmful consequences.

Threats to medical identity security can come from several different sources:

  • Friendly – This occurs when a friend or family member illegitimately uses another person’s identity and medical information to obtain health care services or goods.
  • Providers – Dishonest staff in providers’ offices, including nurses, doctors, technicians, receptionists or other individuals, can steal private information.
  • Hackers – Personal and medical information can be bought online by someone who wants to use another person’s identity to obtain medical services.

Although not completely preventable, early detection of theft will contain the amount of damage and help speed the recovery process. Below are some tips to help prevent medical identity theft:

  • Use strong, unique usernames and passwords.
  • Do not share personal information, and do not give medical insurance cards or information to family or friends.
  • Keep all medical records in a safe place.
  • When disposing of old records, shred them before recycling.
  • Always review your explanation of benefits (EOB) letters, medical bills and any other medical records.
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