With identity theft on the rise these days, most of us are already taking steps to protect ourselves. But did you know that there’s now a growing form of identity theft known as “medical identity theft” that can not only devastate victims’ finances, but also compromise their health, too. According to Joy Pritts, JD, author of Your Medical Record Rights, here’s what you need to know.
What is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when criminals access victims’ medical records. Since medical records contain a person’s social security number and credit card information (if bills have been paid via credit card), criminals can open accounts and make fraudulent charges. However, criminals also gain access to victims’ health insurance policy information and medical histories, and they can create forged health insurance cards to sell to people who are uninsured and need expensive medical treatment. A person who buys a fake health insurance ID card would then seek treatment using the victim’s name and policy number, and then disappear, leaving the victim with the bills to pay.
Why Should You Be Concerned?
Victims of medical identity theft not only have to repair their credit and convince credit agencies and service providers that bills are fraudulent, they also have to correct inaccurate medical information that becomes part of their health records. Victims could be denied life insurance or individual health insurance if their record shows treatments that they did not have. In addition, victims could receive treatments or medicines that could be harmful to them on the basis of inaccurate content in their medical records.
Steps to Take if You Suspect a Medical Identity Theft
To learn more about your medical record rights, visit http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/privacy/records.html.