You have heard of identity theft, but what is medical identity theft? It’s when someone steals your identity and uses it for obtaining medical care. Most medical records are going digital. Thus, they are becoming more vulnerable to hacking, and more patients are at risk.
Why Is Medical Identity Theft a Problem?
Someone who steals your medical information could likely have everything they need to get medical services under your name and leave you stuck with the bill. If these are left unpaid, they can damage your credit rating. When a theft occurs, it can also mean that your medical records could have someone else’s information on them, which is dangerous to you. For example, if you are allergic to a medication the thief was not, you could have an allergic reaction. Or, you may be denied treatment for a condition that you have because the thief did not have it.
How to Protect Yourself
You can’t stop a hacker from breaking into Medicare’s database, but you can take steps to protect yourself from lesser would-be thieves.
Make sure to check your medical records at least once a year and get copies of your file each time you receive treatment. By doing so, you can detect problems and alteration in your documents.
Share no more information than necessary, and on as few platforms as possible. If you don’t have to give your Social Security number or your ID, then don’t. Also, be careful when sharing sensitive information over the phone, through email, on public wifi, cloud services, mobile apps and devices like Fitbit.
Unfortunately, family members are usually the perpetrators of medical identity thefts. Protect your records, either through encryption software or by keeping your paper records where only you can get to them. Also, make sure your medical provider is equally careful with your files.
Medical identity theft can have serious consequences for you. Protect yourself with some simple steps to make sure you are not a victim.