What you need to know about HIPAA and more. Laws have been enacted to help protect your medical privacy. Here’s the lowdown on two such regulations and the aspects of medical privacy they protect. The best-known law in the area of medical privacy is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA. The law spells out who can access your personal information (healthcare providers, their business associates, and subcontractors such as claim processing services) and how they might use and share it. The second key medical privacy law is the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and […]

When thieves take your personal data to get prescription drugs, doctor care, or surgery, it can endanger your health and trash your finances. It began like an ordinary purse snatching. The credit card reader on the gas pump at her Houston neighborhood station wasn’t working, so Deborah Ford went inside to pay. By the time she returned to the car, her purse and wallet were gone. Ford filed a police report, canceled credit cards, and requested a new driver’s license and health insurance card. She checked with the bank several times to be sure nothing was funny, then forgot about […]

Thieves have discovered that medical IDs have far greater value to them than credit card data. Oncology practices should protect themselves from the danger of having their IT systems hacked by having a risk analysis done to identify potential access and compromise points, says Ann Patterson, senior vice president and program director for the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA). The alliance was formed three years ago when its originators realized that medical ID fraud was growing rapidly and had the potential to become a huge problem. A study by the Ponemon Institute indicates that the number of US victims of […]

Protecting patients’ identities Medical identity theft: Part 2 Editor’s note: This is part two of a series about medical identity theft. Look for part one in the July issue of Briefings On HIPAA. PHI is a bankable commodity. Hackers steal data and sell it to fraudsters. Individuals borrow or trade health information to fraudulently obtain coverage for services. Medical identity theft is a highly personal crime that can impact the victim’s finances, personal and professional life, and health. Protecting this data is a tall order and involves staff in diverse departments, from front desk registration to information security. Click here […]

Or will it be too little, too late? If you’re not yet old enough to qualify for Medicare coverage, you may not realize that Medicare cards are distinctly old-fashioned: They are simply laminated cards that openly display that most traditional (and vulnerable) of identifiers, the Social Security number (SSN). The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2015, or H.R. 3220, aims to finally update those cards, replacing them with machine-readable, fraud-resistant “chip and pin” cards that would not reveal any personally identifiable information. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), about $60 billion of Medicare fraud and abuse takes place […]

In the hidden recesses of the Internet, millions of people’s medical records are up for sale to criminals. For John Kuhn, a routine visit to a hospital in Michigan turned into a $20,000 bill for surgery that he never actually received. Kuhn, who works as a senior threat researcher at IBM, later learned from the hospital that staff had lost a hard drive filled with patient data, including his own record. Kuhn eventually had to prove to the hospital that it was a case of identity theft by pulling up his shirt to show that he didn’t have any post-surgical […]

Medical Identity Theft on the Rise The clues are subtle but critical: Perhaps you get a bill for urgent care services you never received. Or upon reviewing your medical record through a patient portal, you see a diagnosis of back pain and multiple prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers. Though not definitive, chances are probable that you’ve been an unfortunate victim of medical identity theft due to a breach of your healthcare data. In the last two years, nearly 90 percent of HIPAA-covered healthcare entities have had a data breach, according to the Ponemon Institute’s “Sixth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy […]

Protecting patients’ identities Medical identity theft: Part 1 Editor’s note: This is part one of a series about medical identity theft. Look for part two in August’s issue of Briefings on HIPAA. Privacy and security officers are sitting on a hoard of valuable data: medical identity information. Social Security numbers. Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurer numbers. Credit card and bank account information. This data can fetch a high price on the black market, and medical identity theft costs patients, providers, and insurers millions of dollars a year. The lure of medical identity information makes healthcare organizations an appealing target for […]

Hacker Takes Credit for Theft of Data on 655,000 Patients A hacker is reportedly selling on the dark web copies of databases stolen from three unidentified U.S. healthcare organizations containing data on 655,000 individuals for prices ranging from about $96,000 to $386,000 in bitcoin for each database. The hacker taking credit, who calls himself “thedarkoverlord,” is operating on the TheRealDeal dark web marketplace and is offering to sell “a unique one-off copy of each of the three databases,” according to dark net news reporting website DeepDot Web. Media website The Daily Dot, which says it examined TheRealDeal listings for the […]

Medical identity theft can be a nightmare for those unlucky enough to become victim to it. The repercussions of this theft can endanger your life at the time you need medical assistance the most. Stats reveal that well over two million Americans have become victims of this scourge. Medical identity theft refers to the theft of your personal information such as name, Social Security Number (SSN) or Medicare number in order to obtain medical services, purchase drugs, or submit fake billings to Medicare using your name. Medical identity theft has a number of far-reaching consequences for victims. For starters, it […]