Medical Identity Theft: Are You Compromising Your Medical Identity?

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Medical identity theft occurs when someone’s name, Social Security number, or insurance information is used to submit fraudulent insurance claims. This can lead to an emergency situation, as not only is a financial loss often incurred, but when medical records are incorrect, the results can be deadly. This month, we want to take the opportunity to educate your account holders about this serious crime and what steps they can take to protect themselves. As always, if your account holders feel they have been impacted by medical identity theft or something similar, our professional identity theft resolution advocates are available to assist with recovering from the effects of identity fraud.  

Identity theft comes in many different forms.  In fact, on an annual basis the Federal Trade Commission reports in this article on 30 different types of identity theft as they tally the number of reports they have received from year to year.  What typically makes the headlines is bank and credit card fraud, but these types of identity theft only account for about 30% of all identity theft reported. One of the lesser talked about types of identity theft that can have long term consequences is Medical identity.  While only 2% of all FTC-reported identity theft is this type, medical identity theft is one of the most serious crimes in this fraud category.  The AARP shows us in this article that cases of medical identity theft are increasing exponentially, with reports to the Federal Trade Commission rising from 6,800 cases in 2017 to nearly 43,000 cases in 2021. 

What Is Medical Identity Theft? 

According to the this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services article, medical identity theft occurs when someone steals or uses your personal information (such as your name, Social Security number, insurance information, or Medicare number) to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare and other insurance providers for services or equipment, without your authorization. This type of crime can disrupt the victim's access to services and cause them considerable financial harm.

How Does It Work?

There are a variety of ways this scam can happen. Often, medical identity theft is a “friendly crime,” which means the scammers know the victims, and about half the time, the theft occurs between family members. Usually, this is without the victim’s knowledge, but there are also instances of a person knowingly sharing their insurance information and identification with the intention of helping a loved one. This is still fraud, with both parties culpable, and often leads to future unexpected complications with medical records. 

Three common ways medical identity theft typically occurs are:

Why Medical Identity Theft Is Dangerous

Medical identity theft can disrupt your medical care and waste taxpayer dollars. In extreme circumstances, it can even be life-threatening if it creates inaccuracies in your personal medical records. 

Financially, while consumers are protected from liability over $50 for fraudulent credit card charges, there’s no such protection for medical fraud. Losses can be in the thousands of dollars and the financial repercussions can last for years, with high medical debt and impact to credit reports. 

Medically, the history of a scammer that gets treatment in your name could become part of your patient history, and their test results and diagnoses can affect your future medical care. When someone is rushed in for an emergency, countless errors could occur during treatment if records are combined with another individual’s. Life-threatening medical record inaccuracies could range from an incorrect blood type listing to the exclusion of critical drug allergies. Additionally, a patient could be denied coverage or treatments due to previous procedures or red flags in their medical history. Needed prescription medications could also be denied because of quantities that appear to have already been dispensed. 

Warning Signs

There are ways to protect yourself and things to look for to ensure your medical identity is safe. Watch out for these warning signs that indicate that you could be a victim of medical ID theft. 

How To Protect Yourself

In addition to the ways you can protect yourself from identity theft, there are specific steps you can take to protect yourself from medical identity theft. 

What To Do

If you receive a bill for a medical service you didn’t have or notice an error in your medical records, contact your health care provider first to see if it's a mistake, and then reach out to your insurance company. 

If you are a <EMBEDDED ACCOUNT> holder and you think you have been a victim of medical identity theft we can help.  We will put you in contact with an Identity Theft Advocate who can assist you in determining the next steps to take.  Whether your issue is medical identity theft or more traditional identity theft, these specialists are ready to guide you through the process of recovering your good name. 

Social Media Content

Use the social posts below to educate your account holders about medical identity theft and the steps they can take to protect themselves. 

Post #1:  Medical identity theft is particularly dangerous and more common than you think. Do you know how to protect yourself from the losses and physical dangers associated with medical ID theft?   #YourProtectionPartner #MedicalIDTheft

Post #2: Learning to spot the signs of medical identity theft is the best way to protect yourself from financial and medical losses. Look for incorrect billing and insurance statements, and stay away from unsolicited offers of free medical services and equipment. #YourProtectionPartner #MedicalIDTheft

Post #3: Protect your personal medical information like you do your Social Security and credit card numbers. Your insurance information can be used to file fraudulent claims, rack up medical debt, and could end up harming you due to inaccuracies on your medical records. #YourProtectionPartner #MedicalIDTheft