Kem Washington joins to share more about the dangers medical identity theft can pose.
Medical identity theft is rising rapidly. In a perhaps-related trend, the medical sector has experienced disproportionately more data breaches than any other business sector – and the disparity continues to rise. This is due, in part, to the increasing number of medical records being stored electronically and the increased value of the information when traded on the dark web.
Medical identity theft can be more difficult to detect than other, more common, types of identity theft. Since medical identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s identity to obtain medical services, it may go unnoticed for quite some time. Often, cases of medical identity theft go undetected until an individual requires services at a later time, or receives an unexpected statement from a health care provider.
Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize the risk of damage that medical identity theft can yield. You’ll want to consider reviewing and monitoring your credit report periodically, and also the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements that you receive from your health insurance company, whether available online or as paper statements in the mail. These statements provide information about medical services provided in your name. Take time to review statements carefully to ensure all services received are for yourself, spouse or dependent.
In addition, keep security in mind when handling your medical records, statements and insurance information. Since this information could be used to obtain services in your name, take precautions to safeguard it. Think twice before sharing your information with others. Before providing medical and personal information, ask yourself whether this person has a genuine need for your information – which should otherwise be kept confidential. More importantly, before entering any medical information online, viewing the address toolbar to ensure the website is secured and that it is for a reputable company.
Finally, if you discover that you’ve been a victim of medical identity theft, you should report it immediately. Contact both your credit reporting agencies and healthcare service providers. In addition, report the case to your local police department in part to document that you were victimized. Doing so can help refute claims that may arise in the future concerning compromised accounts. Placing a fraud alert on your account will require your authorization before any additional services can be performed, and may help you pause activity while you examine your records and charges.