Cybercriminals are giving a new meaning to the term ‘Health is Wealth’. Medical identity theft has victimized over 2.2 million people and that number is growing. Although medical identity theft is not something new, the increasing number of data breaches has increased the number of victims.
What is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information to get free medical care, medical devices or prescription drugs under your name.
This is more dangerous than identity theft because medical identity theft not only ruins your finances, it can have terrible effects on your health. The information a thief provides to a health care provider will be entered in your medical records. This will mix up your health record and make it difficult for the physician to administer proper care.
What makes medical identity theft so valuable?
Medical records are a gold mine of personal data. Most medical records have the name, date of birth, social security number, address, billing information, etc. This wealth of information will fetch a pretty price in the underground economy.
Unlike banks and credit card companies, hospitals have low security. This makes it easy for criminals to access the data. Also, people don’t check for signs of medical identity theft as often as they check their bank and credit card statements. This gives the crime a longer shelf life.
Are you a victim of medical identity theft?
There are some telltale signs of medical identity theft.
- A bill for medical services you did not receive.
- Calls from debt collectors or collection notices about a medical debt you don’t owe.
- You receive a notice from your health plan provider stating that you have reached your benefit limit even though you know your didn’t.
- Your insurance is denied because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
How can I protect myself?
- Check your medical records for discrepancies. If something doesn’t look right have it corrected immediately. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, you are legally entitled to a copy of your medical and billings records.
- Review your insurance benefits at least once a year. Check if all the benefits paid out under your policy matches with what you claimed.
- When providing information online, over the phone or in person, make sure the person receiving the information is actually who they say they are. Scammers are known to call pretending they are from the hospital and convince you to disclose personal information.
- Keep copies of medical records and health insurance cards. Shred unwanted documents that contain personal information.
- Be careful with health apps. Make sure you read the fine print. Some apps disclose your information to third party companies. Keep your phone protected with the best security suite.
How to tackle medical identity theft?
It’s sad but true. Cybercriminals are finding creative new ways to take what belongs to you. Unlike traditional crime rings, cybercrime has a higher reach and greater anonymity.
While taking precautions helps prevent identity theft, criminals have used technology to burrow their way into weak security systems and gain access to your information. A recent example is the Anthem data breach where 78 million patient records were compromised. There is no way one can say if your medical identity will be stolen or not.
It is better to have an identity protection service that will keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Norton Identity Protection Elite is one such reliable service. With 24 x 7 x 365 credit monitoring service, it immediately notifies you if there is something suspicious happening with your accounts. The restoration experts at Norton will work with you to restore your identity as soon as possible. It saves you the trouble of going through the rigors of working with multiple people and spending countless hours over the phone.
Can you put a price on peace of mind?
Perhaps, yes. Having an identity protection service saves a lot of effort and time. The longer it takes to detect identity theft, the longer it takes to resolve it. Learn more about how an identity theft protection service can help you.
used with permission from Norton by Symantec
by Christina Schubert