Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Medical Identity Theft Might Be The Next Big Thing

By now you’ve heard of identity theft – we get it…we shouldn’t share our bank account number with the Minister of Finance from Nigeria. But how many of you have heard of medical identity theft? According to surveys, very few…but the number of medical identity theft incidents are rising at an alarming rate.

sensitive information, data protection, identity theft
For the presently uninformed, medical identity theft is the act of using somebody else’s name and insurance information to get medical care or medications. Of course this results in bills that the victim ends up paying for.

Identity Theft Rising

The Ponemon Institute, working with the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, recently published the results of a survey done with about 43,000 people in the U.S. They found that medical identity theft is up 20% today compared to this time last year.

Almost equally alarming is the perception of how medical identity theft affects the victims. According to the Ponemon study, 50% of the victims did not know that medical identity theft can create inaccuracies in their permanent medical records, which might even lead to misdiagnosis and medical errors in prescriptions. Think about that…if your medical records are compromised, you could end up in a life-changing (or life-ending) situation.

Chew on this figure too: Over 33% of the victims of medical identity theft said they had to pay an average of $18,660 to clear up the problems that came from medical identity theft.

Sadly, the study found that most people provide the push-start to medical identity theft by knowingly sharing their medical identity information to family members and friends. 53% of those surveyed shared their information at least once. 21% shared their information more times than they could remember or count.

Protect Your Sensitive Information

So what can you do to avoid the fees and death resulting from medical identity theft? Well, for starters, don’t share your medical identification information with anyone else. It’s not safe (literally), and it’s not legal. Your insurance doesn’t cover your cousin or your best friend. You should also check over your insurance statements regularly. Look for activity that you know you isn’t yours. If you find anything unusual or unexpected, report it to your insurance provider immediately.

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