Reducing The Risk Of Medical Identity Theft.

Medical Identity Theft – An Unhealthy Crime.

Imagine
if you received a hefty bill for medical treatment that you know you
did not have.

Or, debt collectors called demanding settlement for health
related debt that you know absolutely nothing about.

medical records
Identity thieves can cause you financial havoc and create stress in your life with information from your medical records.
filed medical records
Identity thieves can cause you financial havoc and create stress in your life with information from your medical records.

What
if, out of the blue you get notification from your health insurance
company that your benefits are being cut because you have reached your
limit.

But the fact is . . . you have not made a claim in years.

You would wonder what is going on, how could these things be happening to you?

It feels like a nightmare.

Nightmares
like the above, and even worse, can happen if you become a victim of
identity thieves who steal your health information.

Medical
identity theft happens when an impostor fraudulently uses your medical
insurance information to obtain surgery, treatment or prescribed drugs.

As with other kinds of ID theft, you usually don’t know you are a victim until some time after the crime.

Medical Identity Theft Can Be Life Threatening.

When a thief uses somebody else’s identity to obtain health care, it does
more than create financial danger and upheaval in the life of the
victim.

The most frightening aspect of medical identity theft is that
the crime could result in a life threatening situation.

If an impostor uses a victim’s identity to fraudulently obtain surgery
or other health care, a record is created.

This can result in erroneous
information on the victim’s file, such as incorrect blood type, wrong
medical history, non existent conditions and allergies, drug or alcohol
dependency.

The incorrect information on file could result in the victim receiving
the wrong surgery or medical treatment, being prescribed
ineffective medications, or medication they are allergic to, or has an
adverse reaction with medication they are already taking.

Avoiding Medical ID Theft.

It is up to us as individuals to safeguard our medical information in the same way that we safeguard our financial information.

However,
no mater how much we do to protect ourselves against medical identity
theft, some things are outside of our control. This is why the FTC says
there is no fool-proof way to avoid medical identity theft.

While the vast majority of medical staff are honest individuals,
some cases of medical ID theft begins with insider crime.

Medical
personal have been known to duplicate patient records and use the
information to fraudulently obtain treatment or drugs. Alternatively
they sell the information on to ID fraud gangs.

Doctors,
consultants, pharmacists and heads of clinics have used patient
information to submit fraudulent bills to patients insurers.

An unsuspecting victim’s relations or close friends may impersonate the victim to obtain their health insurance benefits.

Because
insider crime is largely outside our control the FTC acknowledges that
you can’t be sure of avoiding medical ID theft, but says you can take a few steps to minimize your risk.

A Phone Call From An Identity Thief.

Be very wary of giving out personal information over the phone.

Fraudsters
use the telephone to try and obtain personal information to help them
carry out many kinds of ID theft including medical identity theft.

They could claim to be your doctor’s office, your health insurance
provider, a health specialist, a hospital that you have received
treatment from or any organization that would have an interest in your
health.

These crooks can sound very convincing, the story they
give you and the questions they ask can seem very innocent. They will be
well rehearsed and proficient in digging for personal information.

They may claim that your medical records need updating. They may scare you into believing something is wrong.

They
may offer a bargain priced health plan with all the cover you need, but
of course you have to make your mind up now and supply them with
personal information. The bargain health plan is unlikely to exist, but
the medical ID thieves have got what they want, your medical
information.

If you are suspicious about an unsolicited phone call
do not give any information, end the call if necessary.

If you think
the call may genuinely be from your doctor etc., call back, but do not
call any number they supply, get the number from your records or the
phone book.

More information on identity theft and Phone Scams.

Treat That Email With Suspicion.

In the same way that medical identity theft criminals use the phone to
trick people into divulging their personal information, they will use
email.

stethoscope
If you suspect you are a victim of ID fraud you must contact each and every health care provider that you use.

Any unsolicited email requesting your medical information should be regarded with a great deal of suspicion.

Emails
can be spoofed to look exactly like they were sent by your medical
insurance provider or whoever.

Never click on a link, or a button in
one of these ‘phishing’ emails, the link will likely take you to a dummy
site.

If it worries you that the email may be a genuine message, pick up
the phone and call your doctor’s office, or whoever the message seems to
be from. Look the number up, do not call any number contained in the
message.

If you think you need to contact them online, open a new
browser window and enter the correct web address, not any contained in
the message. Otherwise search Google for the correct web address. More
information on ID theft and Phishing emails.

Take All Precautions With Your Health Information.

Many medical organizations are now storing records online and it is
essential that you take all precautions if accessing your health
information on your computer. Use Secure Passwords and change them frequently.

Be
careful too with paper documentation. Do not throw out any documents
containing medical information without first shredding them. We are all
aware that criminals rummage through trash, even the most harmless
seeming health detail could assist those criminals to commit medical
identity theft.

Scraping labels off medicine bottles and
completely obliterating any personal identifying information on
packaging before throwing them out is also a good precaution.

Try to ensure that you are not overheard when telling medical staff, or others that need to know, any of your personal details.

Check Your EOB.

Review very thoroughly the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement that
your health care plan providers should send to after you receive
treatment. Explanation of Benefits
Wikipedia

Medical Identity Theft.
It is up to us as individuals to safeguard our medical information in the same way that we safeguard our financial information.

Look carefully for any treatment or benefits that you know you did
not receive or dates that you did not receive treatment. Look too for
any inaccuracies in group or identity numbers.

Report any
discrepancy that you find to your health care provider, (there is often a
toll free number on your EOB.) Mistakes could be simple clerical errors
or evidence of medical identity fraud.

Once each year request a
copy of your credit reports from the three major nationwide credit
reporting companies.

These companies are concerned with things
financial, not medical, but if they show unaccountable medical bills it
could be an indication of fraud.

The three main credit bureaus:

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742

Unfortunately there is no central bureau for medical records. If you
suspect you are a victim of medical identity theft you must contact each
and every health care provider that you use. This includes hospitals,
doctors, health clinics, pharmacies and health plan providers.

Request a
copy of your records, you have a right to do this but may have to pay a
fee for your copy.



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Medical Identity Theft.

Identity Theft Facts : Keep aware of ID theft facts.
By being aware of identity theft facts you can greatly reduce your chances of identity fraud.

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