When most people think of Identity Theft, they assume it’s financial. However, Medical Identity Theft is a very real threat as well. Knowing what it is and how it happens can keep your risk level low.
What is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft is the misuse of your personal information to obtain medical services, health care goods or even funds. It can also include someone using your information to fill fraudulent prescriptions. Basically, if someone has your information and uses it for anything medical related, medical identity theft has been committed.
The frightening thing about this type of theft is that the criminal doesn’t necessarily need your social security number—generally, your name, birth date and address can be enough. When a thief uses your information to be treated in an emergency, for example, the hospital treats them quickly and the billing department may not detect that theft has occurred.
What Can Happen
If you’re the victim of medical identity theft, your own records will be compromised therefore making it difficult to seek treatment. Your records may be changed to reflect the offender’s.
What You Should Do If You’re a Victim
If your medical identity has been stolen, you may receive a bill for services you didn’t get. You also may be denied coverage for something due to a condition on your records that you don’t have.
If this happens, you should immediately access your records. You will have to provide proof of your identity and documentation of the potential theft to do so. Look closely at your records for indications that someone has been using your identity and contact each of the providers where your info was used.Find out if the thief had your social security number or health insurance number, or both, and report all of this to the medical billing departments involved. It’s also a good idea to send a written letter to your providers asking that your records be corrected.
How To Avoid Becoming a Victim
Check your records often. What you’ve been billed for, doctor’s visits, goods etc. will be documented by your insurance provider and you can access this information at any time. As with any kind of identity theft, protect yourself by disclosing personal information when absolutely necessary and to trusted parties only. It’s never a good idea to reveal medical or insurance information by phone or email and shred outdated documents of your records.
Medical identity theft is not uncommon and it’s important to be diligent with your records, information and privacy.