By hacking an insurance company or hospital, criminals can access all of your sensitive information in one fell swoop.

This year is already on track to topple 2016’s record-breaking 1,093 data breaches. In the first six months of 2017, 791 data breaches have already been reported, according to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout. This is a 29% increase compared to this time last year.

Data breaches have become so common that credit card numbers are virtually worthless on the black market because there’s so many available. That’s disturbing in itself, but what’s even more scary is that this oversupply has caused cyber criminals to set their sights higher by targeting the health care industry.

So far in 2017, the health care industry has suffered the largest jump in data breaches of any other sector: In the first half of 2017, they already represent 30.7% of data breaches, compared to 22.6% last year.

Health care records are essentially microcosms of your life, containing everything from your medical history and contact information, to your financial information and Social Security number.

“As other sectors, such as financial services, put measures in place to protect their electronic data, it is typical for fraudsters to move to what they consider the next low-hanging fruit. With the amount of personal health information now available in electronic format, it is a natural progression for cyber criminals to migrate to health care,” Ann Patterson, Senior Vice President of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, explained to us.

Medical Identity Theft Can Create Medical Inaccuracies
Undetected medical fraud can be far more serious than a damaged credit score. If a criminal assumes someone else’s identity to obtain medical care, it can negatively affect the health of the victim.

Victims can receive the wrong form of medical treatment or diagnosis if their medical information is mixed up with a criminal’s. A doctor may base treatment on a medical condition the victim doesn’t have, a surgery they never received, or a prescription they don’t take. And, even if incorrect data is detected, it can be nearly impossible to remove from health records.

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By ClassAction.com, July 27, 2017