Following closely on the heels of the theft of the medical records of approximately 780,000 people in Utah that I reported on in the “scam of the day” for April 12th, another major example of medical identity theft has occurred, this time in South Carolina where approximately 230,000 Medicaid records were stolen. In this case, the information contained names, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates, Medicaid ID numbers and Social Security numbers. This amount of information dramatically puts those people whose information was stolen in grave danger of both medical identity theft and traditional identity theft. While the Utah theft of information was perpetrated by outside hackers in Eastern Europe, in South Carolina it was an inside job with an employee accessing the information. Medical Identity theft is becoming a huge problem with more than five million people being affected by medical identity theft in 2010 according to federal figures. Medical identity theft can be particularly insidious because it can corrupt the victim’s medical records and cause the victim to receive improper medical treatment. Traditional identity theft can also be accomplished simultaneously with medical identity theft thereby causing great financial damage as well to the victims.
Greater security is required of medical records from attacks both from outside the system and inside the system. Greater screening of employees having access to information should be done and the number of employees with access to such information should be limited. Much greater use of encryption should also be used and greater password protection and user codes should be implemented. As for we the individuals whose records are in jeopardy, we should pay greater attention to every detail of our medical bills each month to identify possible breaches and also inquire of our medical care providers as to what they are doing to preserve the security of our information.