Caution: Medical Identity Theft

November 29, 2013

As caregivers of aging parents, we’re warned about the dangers of fraud, telephone scams and identity theft.  However, were you aware that medical identity theft can be as damaging to your family’s credit rating as financial identity theft?

Thieves may use your name and health insurance information to visit physicians, obtain medications, or file claims against insurance providers.  If you suspect signs of medical identity theft, order copies of your medical records and confirm the information.

Protecting confidential information is the first step in fighting medical identity theft

Protecting confidential information is the first step in fighting medical identity theft

 Detecting Medical Identity Theft

  • Read medical and insurance statements thoroughly.
  • Confirm that the provider’s name, date of service and service provided are accurate.
  • If you see a mistake, report the problem immediately.

Be aware of other signs of medical identity theft, such as:

  • a bill for medical services you didn’t receive.
  • a call from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe.
  • medical collection notices on your credit report that you don’t recognize.
  • a notice from your health plan saying you reached your benefit limit.
  • a denial of insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

Correcting Information in Your Medical Records

  • Obtain copies of your medical information and check for errors.
  • Contact each doctor, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, or other location where the scammer may have used your personal information.
  • Keep copies of your correspondence, phone call records and conversations with your health plan and medical providers.
  • Request a copy of the “accounting of disclosures” for your medical records. The accounting is a record of who got copies of your records from the provider.

Protect Your Medical Information

  • Be cautious of  “free” health services or products that requires you to provide your confidential medical identification number.
  • Never share medical identification information by phone unless you make the initial contact and you know the company being represented.
  • Treat your medical paperwork as you would banking information.  Keep the information in a safe location and shred outdated material.
  • If you need additional information on protecting your records against medical identity theft, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

 

 

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