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Doctor’s Orders: An Ounce of Identity Theft Prevention is The Best Identity Theft Protection

This post was a popular post; so popular we are resubmitting it. Most of our customers thought we were just using made-up examples. Sorry folks. This is not Santa Claus…but the real McCoy. These are real stories and real people just like you and me. Identity theft prevention is necessary even as a baby.  It’s fairly incredible but true. It’s one of the reasons we introduced our 100% recovery option. It covers you and your children from identity theft.

A 3-week-old baby’s family suddenly receives a collection notice for unpaid medical bills on his work-related back injuries. A woman is denied insurance coverage because her medical record shows that she is an HIV-positive 28-year-old man, and a childless woman is arrested for abandoning her baby at the hospital soon after birth. A man is taken to the hospital with extreme stomach pain, but his appendicitis is misdiagnosed, because his medical record erroneously states that he had his appendix out five years ago. All these people are victims of medical identity theft, a crime that can destroy your credit rating, your access to medical treatment, and your life.

Identity Theft Prevention

The World Privacy Forum says that “Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses a person’s name and sometimes other parts of their identity — such as insurance information — without the person’s knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods, or uses the person’s identity information to make false claims for medical services or goods.” There are 3 types of medical identity crime:
Financial Medical Identity Theft:  Someone is getting medical help using your name and/or other information.
Criminal Medical Identity Theft: You are being held responsible for someone else’s criminal behavior (like the woman arrested for supposedly abandoning a baby).
Government Benefit Fraud: Your medical benefits in programs such as Medicare or Medicaid are being used by another person.

According to the Federal Trade Commission‘s most recent figures, medical identity theft accounted for 3 percent of identity theft crimes, or 249,000 of the estimated 8.3 million people who had their identities lifted in 2005.  That number has skyrocketed in recent years.  But as more healthcare providers convert to electronic medical records, medical identity crimes may become more prevalent. Medical identity theft typically leaves a trail of falsified information in medical records that can plague victims’ medical and financial lives for years. It can create erroneous entries in a person’s existing medical records, or it can involve the creation of fictitious medical records in the victim’s name (for example, if someone with a fake insurance card in your name goes to a hospital where you have never been). As medical information is shared among hospitals, physicians and insurers, false information can propagate far and wide.

The most obvious cause of medical identity theft is that someone steals your medical insurance card or insurance benefit statements. Large-scale medical identity theft is more often an inside job, with medical office staff or facilities’ contractors copying medical records and selling them to criminal interests, who may then sell counterfeit insurance cards to uninsured Americans and illegal immigrants (a Business Week article noted that as of 2007, health records were fetching $50 to $60 each on the black market, vs. $.07 for stolen resumes). In other cases, doctors or organized crime use patient information to fraudulently charge healthcare providers for services that were never provided.

Medical identity theft is difficult to rectify. First, unlike financial fraud, there is no established procedure to correct medical identity theft. Second, medical institutions and healthcare providers are required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect patient information, even if that patient is being treated under a false identity, making it nearly impossible to get misinformation out of medical records.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from medical identity theft. First and most obvious, if your medical insurance card is stolen, report it to your insurer and healthcare providers. Second, carefully check the Explanation of Benefits statements sent by your insurer to be sure that all the services listed were actually provided to you on the dates shown. Third, check your credit report regularly, as unpaid medical bills will show up there. The World Privacy Forum lists a number of other safety measures, including keeping a copy of your current medical files, to protect against future ID theft.

If you find evidence that you are a victim of medical identity theft, don’t call your healthcare provider and announce that you’re a victim of identity theft. If you do, they may cut off access to your medical records because of HIPAA privacy requirements. Medical identity theft is a serious ailment, but with the right help, you can get better identity theft protection.

Identity thieves commit their crime in several ways therefore to fight against identity theft, need to prevent identity theft. Identity Theft Prevention Top tips by KeepMyID to help you avoid becoming the victim of an identity thief.

Provided by IDExperts and www.keepmyID.org

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