Medical Identity Theft Becoming Growing Problem
Some of the explosion of this new form of identity theft is due to Obamacare, other experts say it was inevitable in our information and technology age.
Besides having credit cards opened in one's name, or having Social Security numbers stolen and used to create fake credit accounts, experts now say a new form of identity theft is exploding across the financial world.
It's called medical identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, increasing numbers of thieves are stealing peoples identity via medical and personal records. These records are used to illegally obtain prescription drugs, see a doctor, even file disability claims.
The Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) is a relatively new group tasked with studying and combating this new phenomenon. According to MIFA 2.3 million Americans were medical identity victims in 2014, up 22% from the year before.
According to Northwest Cable News:
"Part of the problem likely stems from cyberattacks and security breaches at major corporations, when thousands or millions of people's data is stolen in one fell swoop. That happened recently at America's second-largest health insurer, Anthem, for example, and even more recently at Premera Blue Cross, based in Washington State. Premera Blue Cross' breach is believed to affect 11 million members..."
What to look for to protect yourself? According to MIFA and other experts, conduct at least quarterly checks of your credit reports, and look for suspicious or unfamiliar medical bills. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act passed years ago by Congress grants certain rights for citizens, including rights to see electronic records held by providers.
Be on the lookout for "too good to be true" insurance or medical offers. They can often be scams designed to grab your personal information.
And surprisingly, do NOT allow friends or family (outside of your spouse or children) access to your personal information so they can obtain medical care. Sometimes people like to help others by getting them into that certain doctor using their insurance, but MIFA says nearly 25% of all medical identity fraud is perpetrated by a person close to the victim - even a cousin or relative!
So, just be as smart with medical and insurance information as you are with credit cards, and you will greatly diminish your chances of falling victim to medical identity theft.