Identity theft has become increasingly more common in recent years.

What Medical Identity Theft Really Is
Medical identity theft is a specific category of identity theft crime that involves the stealing of a name and/or health insurance numbers in order to obtain prescription drugs, use the victim’s insurance provider to file claims, get appointments with doctors, or receive other health-related care.

Identity theft and scam expert Rob Douglas explained that “of the many types of identity theft, medical identity theft poses the greatest risk to the physical safety of victims.” He also went on to say that “once a medical identity thief fraudulently obtains healthcare in your name, and that treatment becomes part of your electronic healthcare record, your healthcare may be placed in jeopardy. After all, your medical history, current and future diagnoses, and treatment could be compromised because of the treatment the identity thief received.”

Why the Medical Field Is Targeted
There are a few reasons behind why identity theft criminals are focusing in on the medical field:

One reason corresponds with the lifespan of the crime itself. Stolen medical data is significantly more difficult to retrieve or cancel than financial data. For example, if a person’s medical records are stolen, the victim cannot simply put a hold on or cancel their medical history like they can with a credit card. Therefore, the identity theft criminal can use/abuse the stolen information for a longer period of time.

Another motivation behind medical identity theft lies with the vast amount of people that can be targeted through medical institutions. Millions of people’s information can be found in medical databases, which makes the medical field a definite target. Basically, the more people seek health care, the more information there is to be stolen. Health care data greatly outnumbers that of financial data.

How to Avoid Being the Victim

  • Regularly monitor your medical records and know how to look for errors or false information.
  • Be cautious with whom you share your health information with. Strive to only give your medical information to trusted medical professionals.
  • Try to refrain from using free, public wifi services. If you do use public wifi, do not access any private information, especially medical data.
  • Be wary of free medical services/treatments as they can be a part of a medical identity theft scam.
  • Contact insurers and providers regarding health care charges and bills that were not received. It’s a good habit to do this even if your insurance covers procedures/medical visits.

Click here to read he full article and learn more about protecting yourself.

By Alayna Pehrson, Best Company, October 3, 2017