What Is Medical Identity Theft and How Can You Protect Yourself?
Medical identity theft has been a problem for some time, but it has recently worsened as the pandemic continues and cybercriminals grow bolder with their attacks on healthcare organizations. In addition, this costly theft affects government programs and insurance providers, and the general population may pay for these costs through taxes and increased insurance costs. Furthermore, there is the real risk of the identity thief mixing their health information with the victim’s, which can be dangerous when the victim obtains medical care.
How Do Cybercriminals Steal Medical IDs?
Cybercriminals committing medical identity theft require specific information such as, but not limited to, your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. In addition, these thieves can also make use of your personal health information.
Thieves have several means of obtaining your personal information. They can acquire it from physical sources such as lost Social Security cards, data breaches affecting health insurance organizations, or purchase the information from the dark web. In some cases, thieves get the information directly from the victims over a scam phone call or email. Therefore, be mindful of whom you speak with and what information you share over email. Do not give out this information unless you initiate the call or email.
What Do Cybercriminals Do With Medical Information?
Cybercriminals have many uses for stolen medical identities. For example, thieves can use the information to procure medical benefits and drugs, or bill the government or insurance companies without your consent.
Protect your identity and medical information by taking necessary steps such as:
- Obtaining a copy of your medical records. Federal law gives you the right to have this information in most cases. Ask your doctor for a copy of your records to ensure you have the information necessary to prove identity theft.
- Reviewing your explanation of benefits. Always request information about your benefits and the insurance used for each medical visit. Once you receive this, compare it to your records. If it does not match your records, there could be a problem.
- Keeping your medical information safe. Never give out your medical information unless you are making first contact and know whom you are giving it to.
If you take these precautions, you should considerably reduce the risk of medical identity theft. However, if you believe you have been a victim of medical identity theft, you should contact the police and your insurance company. If you are concerned that a thief has used your information for more than medical purposes, you may want to get in touch with your financial institutions. It may also be good to run a self-background check to ensure your identity has not been used for criminal purposes.
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