ASK THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: How Can I Protect My "Medical" Identity?
Most consumers are familiar with the threat of becoming a victim of financial identity theft. However, medical identity theft is a new form of stealing your identity that consumers may not be aware of. This type of identity theft does not require a lot of skill and may go undetected for a long period of time, making it extremely appealing to criminals.
What is Medical ID Theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when an individual uses another person's medical benefits or prescription drug card information to receive medical services or drugs. Scam artists are not the only perpetrators of medical identity theft. Unfortunately, these crimes can also be committed by organized crime rings, doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, hospital, and lab employees. Often times the crimes result from a person being on the "inside" who has access to another person's medical information. Examples of how your medical identity may be used illegally include:
Medical identity theft is dangerous not just because a person's medical information is used without their knowledge, but because their actual medical history and records may be altered as a result of the unauthorized use. A victim of this form of ID theft may not know that their medical records have been hijacked to reflect the medical condition of the thief who stole your identity. This becomes particularly dangerous if you need emergency care at a hospital and you have a different blood type than what is reflected on your records. Any erroneous information in your health records creates a serious risk to the care you might receive if you need to seek treatment and could affect your ability to obtain health or life insurance in the future.
What can I do to protect myself from becoming a victim of medical ID theft?
Medical identity theft is not as easy to detect as financial ID theft, which in some cases can be discovered quickly should an unauthorized charge appear on your credit card. To help protect your medical identity, I recommend that consumers:
What should I do if I am a victim of medical ID theft?
Contact the Attorney General's Office and your local police department to report and document the criminal activity. I would also recommend that you contact your health insurer, credit bureaus, banks and other financial institutions. If you suspect that you have been the victim of Medicare/Medicaid fraud, call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477.