Medical identity theft is on the rise and hackers are being more creative about obtaining personal medical information.

In fact, a recent study by researchers at Michigan State University found nearly 1,800 incidences of large data breaches in patient information over a seven-year period from October 2009 to December 2016.

In the U.S., medical identities are 20 to 50 times more valuable to criminals than financial identities. According to, the average cost for victims of medical identity theft is $22,000 to resolve the crime. And, the impact can go well beyond financial. For example, a fraudster could use your employee’s health insurance information to receive services, which could then cause the employee’s own medical records to get compromised. This could trigger prescription fraud, inaccurate medical records, and just a massive headache for your employee.

The costs associated with medical identity theft may be a primary reason why the health care industry and related stakeholders are teaming up to focus on prevention. Businesses — including health care providers such as hospitals, integrated care payer-providers such as Kaiser Permanente, insurers, credit companies, and digital security companies — formed the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance to help prevent medical identity theft.

Here are five tips to help your employees protect their medical information:

  • Track medical records and check for mistakes.
  • Read medical and insurance statements regularly and completely.
  • Monitor where and when personal medical information is provided.
  • Keep paper and electronic copies of medical records and health insurance records in a safe place.
  • Look for medical organizations that follow the “Red Flags Rule.”

Click here to read the full article, including details on these steps to protect yourself.

By Steven Bearak, May 23, 2017, SC Magazine