Recently, a major medical provider disclosed the theft of personal information from over ten million patients. This breach has brought attention to a relatively new form of identity theft: Medical. It poses a significant risk to patients, exposing their personal information to potential identity thieves. In light of these developments, consumers must understand this emerging threat and take immediate steps to safeguard their identities.
Medical identity fraud is when a scammer steals someone’s identity to obtain unauthorized medical care or submit fake claims to health insurers. Thieves do this by acquiring an individual’s data, such as name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and other identifying information. Such theft can alter an individual’s medical records and care, potentially putting their health at risk.
The fake claims they make then lead to a significant financial burden on the victim. Similar to traditional identity theft, some cases could ruin the victim’s reputation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for a scammer to steal someone’s identity and commit medical identity theft.
Thieves have proven they do not need much to steal one’s identity. A stolen insurance card or mail from an insurer could prove enough for them to scam a hospital’s emergency department. Well-played scams can get around most medical providers’ regulations that require people to present proof of insurance with a photo ID. In addition, they likely take advantage of how organizations do not often turn away patients in need who cannot acquire these documents.
Scammers may have higher-tech methods to steal data for medical identity theft. Large-scale data breaches can reveal the personal medical data of tens of millions of people at once. Though impacted individuals may receive notice of a healthcare database breach, it may not prove enough to prevent theft. Depending on how long it takes to recognize the breach, thieves could have used or sold the compromised information for other uses.
Unfortunately, preventing such scams has proven challenging. As such, you should stay on alert and watch for signs of potential scams. Pay attention to bills and notifications from insurers and healthcare providers. This vigilance could save you from medical identity theft.
Consider checking a free credit report from one of the three major reporting agencies for signs of traditional or medical identity theft. Another way to detect fraud is by running a self-background check. These checks can reveal instances of stolen identity, such as interactions with law enforcement. Knowing what’s on your report allows you to dispute inaccuracies and better protect your identity.
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