Medical Identity Theft is Up as Job Loss Means Loss of Insurance Benefits

Identity thieves traditionally target a victim’s bank accounts or credit cards or else use a victim’s information to establish credit for credit cards, loans or even utilities in a victim’s name. Savvy citizens know to protect their bank and credit card numbers, social security numbers and passwords but did you know that you need to be just as vigilant with your insurance card numbers?


Identity thieves traditionally target a victim’s bank accounts or credit cards or else use a victim’s information to establish credit for credit cards, loans or even utilities in a victim’s name. Savvy citizens know to protect their bank and credit card numbers, social security numbers and passwords but did you know that you need to be just as vigilant with your insurance card numbers?
What is medical identity theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses someone else’s identity, including their insurance benefits to receive medical services, care or goods or else to make false claims for financial gain.
Why would someone want to steal your medical identity?
In some cases, the crimes are committed by undocumented workers, or other uninsured people to receive needed medical care.
In other cases, drug addicts who can’t get more prescriptions in their own name will steal someone else’s medical identity to gain access to more prescription drugs.
Others simply make fraudulent claims for financial gain.
Medical identity theft is dangerous to your both your wallet and your health. Victims of medical identity theft have received medical bills for up to $40,000 for surgeries they never had. Even minor procedures or diagnosis’ threaten a victim. Your medical history and insurance claims follow you everywhere, which is a good thing if the information is correct. If you end up in an emergency room, doctors will make decisions on your treatment based on this past medical history and parts of it are bogus, your treatment could suffer.
Lt. Robert Sebby with Metro Financial crimes explains:
“If you get sick (with the same diagnosis) as a crook and go to the doctor under your name and come back with what they would deem as a preexisting condition, we’ve had actual insurance companies try to cancel the victim’s insurance for debilitating diseases,” said Lt. Sebby.
Medical identity theft can occur in private doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals. Sebby adds, “I’ve had doctors call me and tell me they don’t know who they operated on.”
Medical identity theft isn’t a new problem but it is on the rise. With the massive job cuts and high unemployment rates, more and more people are uninsured, which makes the crime of medical identity theft more tempting.
What can you do to protect yourself from medical identity theft?
Get a copy of your medical records to save for comparison in the future.
*Request a list of payments made for your medical services from your insurance company every year.
*Check your credit report at least once a year for any unusual unpaid charges for medical services.
*Never assume an unwarranted medical bill is just another error. Research and report any and all discrepancies.
*Protect your insurance card and benefits papers as if they are your social security numbers or bank account numbers.
Healthcare fraud costs millions a year and the cost is passed on to all of us. Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum warns, “Medical identity theft causes terrible harm, both financial and physical.”

 

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