Identity Theft and Medical Records

Can You Become an Identity Theft Victim after Seeking Medical Treatment?

I’ve written about identity theft risk and how restricted access to your medical records reduces your risk of identity theft. But what many Americans don’t realize is that identity theft is not always perpetrated by just a single individual. More and more organized criminals are committing identity theft. The rewards for identity theft criminals can be great, and many times there is low risk of getting caught.

Medical Professionals Gone Bad

It sounds hard to believe, but identity theft that involves patients’ medical records sometimes involves physicians. Some doctors file fraudulent claims hoping to increase profits. An identity theft ring involving fraudulent medical claims will resemble an actual clinic or healthcare facility. They will set up shop and get customers by offering free health screenings. They then submit falsified bills to insurance companies to receive reimbursement.

Serious Consequences

The real problem with this type of medical identity theft goes beyond the financial losses associated with identity theft. Imagine your medical records reflecting that you’ve been treated for something that you never had. Let’s say the record reflected you received some sort of medication that you actually are allergic to. Public policy experts are concerned about this and are trying to push for consumers to have greater control over their medical records so that they can correct any errors in the records.

The incidence of the type of identity theft described above really illustrates just how deeply victims can be affected by identity theft. As if having your social security number and personal financial information stolen aren’t enough, to further add insult to injury you end up with an erroneous medical record reflecting treatments and illnesses you never experienced.

Take Precautions

For personal reference, I suggest making a list of every business, person, or other entity that you give your social security number to. If you start a new job, add your employer to the list. If you apply for a new credit card, add the name and address of the credit card company to the list. If you seek medical treatment at a new doctor, add them to the list. Include and address and phone number for each entry. Also list the date that you gave your social security number to the business. You still might not avoid becoming the victim of identity theft, but at least you will have a rough sketch of when or how it could have occurred if you become a victim.

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