In my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” and in a number of Scamicide “scams of the day” I have warned you about the dangers of medical identity theft which was again in the news recently with the indictment of an Ohio man who is charged with stealing the identity of a South Carolina man and using his identity and his insurance to obtain more than $300,000 of medical services at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. It has been estimated that medical identity theft by which someone’s medical insurance is accessed by an identity thief costs health care providers up to 7 billion dollars a year. However, the cost to someone who is a victim of medical identity can be much worse than just lost money. The medical identity thief’s medical information, such as blood type and other information gets mixed into the medical records of the medical identity theft victim thereby leaving the medical identity theft victim facing the possibility of receiving improper treatment based on false information in his or her tainted medical file. This is potentially life threatening. Often medical identity theft is an inside job where rogue employees of a medical facility sell the medical insurance information of their patients to identity thieves.
The medical industry has a long way to go to insulate patients’ insurance and medical information from the prying eyes of identity thieves. However, one promising step that is starting to be used is biometrics such as iris scanners to make sure that the person using medical information is the real insured. I discuss this in detail in “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age.” With medical identity theft at epidemic proportions, it is important for the medical industry to take greater steps to reduce or eliminate medical identity theft. We can do our part by asking our medical care providers what they are doing to prevent medical identity theft and to encourage them to use iometric identifiers such as iris scans as a part of that effort.