A specific type of identity theft is on the rise: medical identity theft. But, what is medical identity theft, and how does it differ from a classic case of identity theft?

Medical identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information in order to obtain medical care, buy drugs or submit fake billings to Medicare in your name, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Unlike financial identity theft — which occurs when someone illegally uses your personal financial information to empty your bank account or rack up charges on credit cards taken out in your name — medical identity theft can have other serious consequences and is more difficult to clear up.

Any type of treatment, diagnosis or surgery that occurs with a stolen identity could become a part of your medical record. This could affect your access to medical care, insurance benefits and the acquired debts could end up on your credit report.

For someone to commit medical identity theft, your Social Security number isn’t necessarily needed as your name, birthday and address could be enough. According to the private cybersecurity research firm, Ponemon Institute, an estimated 2.3 million cases of medical identity theft were identified in 2014, a 22-percent increase from 2013.

The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission offer the following advice to help prevent your medical information from falling into the wrong hands:

  • Watch out for red flags.
  • Read the statements from your health insurance company.
  • Protect your personal information.
  • Check your credit report.

Click here to read the full article and learn details bout these prevention tips.

January 25, 2017 By Kelvin Collins, Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia