Scam of the day – December 10, 2012 – Medical identity theft update

As I have explained in the section on Medical Identity Theft in the list of scams that are found on the right sides of this website/blog, medical identity theft is a major concern because it may not only cost you money, but it can affect your ability to access your health insurance or even result in your receiving improper medical care due to the medical identity thief’s medical information being mixed in with yours on your medical records.  A recent study done by the Ponemon Institute indicates that the extent of the problem is even bigger than previously thought with more than half of all health care organizations reporting medical identity theft causing inaccuracies in patients’ records in close to 40% of this group.  Medical identity theft is often an inside job where rogue employees steal the health insurance information of patients and sell it to identity thieves.  Due to federal HIPAA medical privacy regulations it is incredibly difficult to have the medical information of a medical identity thief removed from the victim’s medical records.  Medical identity theft is also happening as a result of data breaches of the health care providers.

TIPS

Inquire of your health care providers what they are doing to maintain the security of their records and consider using an alternative health care provider if they are not doing enough.  Also carefully check your medical bills when you receive them.  Many people only look to see if they owe anything and if they do not, they don’t bother to carefully check the rest of the bill to makes sure that no inaccurate charges are contained on the bill.   Phony charges on your medical insurance can cost you money by eating up your coverage.  If you find improper charges report them immediately to your health care provider and ask that the charges be removed and at a minimum that your medical records identify the records mixed in with yours of the medical identity thief.  If possible ask that your records be purged of incorrect information.