Medical identity theft is the illegal access and use of a patient's personally identifiable information to obtain medical treatment, services or goods.
As I learn more about the different types of identity theft I tend to make connections in my daily life that I never did before. For instance, today I needed to get a prescription refilled so I went to my pharmacy and simply gave my name and asked them to fill any prescription that had a refill available. The pharmacy clerk looked at my file, told me what was available, and refilled my prescriptions. He never asked for any type of identification such as date of birth or drivers license. He simply filed a claim to my insurance provider and filled my prescriptions. How easy would it have been for someone to go through my trash, find an empty pill bottle or other prescription information and go to my pharmacy and do the same thing? Knowledge is power so today I am going to share tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim as well as how to recover your identity if it is stolen.
Steps for Protecting Yourself:
Keep all electronic and paper copies in a safe place and be sure to shred any outdated documents. Remove labels from empty pill bottles and shred before disposing. If someone calls you requesting your health plan ID number do not give it out. Only share your personal and medical information when you initiate contact. Ask questions about how your information will be kept safe and why it is needed. Be sure to read all privacy policies. When accessing medical information online be sure you see the lock icon in the address bar or that the web address begins with "https". This ensures that you are using a secure browser.
Signs That You Have Become a Victim:
Receiving a bill for services you did not receive. Denial of insurance coverage due to a condition you have not been diagnosed as having. Calls from debt collectors for unpaid medical bills for services you did not receive. You receive notice that you have reached your benefit limit. Your credit report shows collections for medical services you do not recognize.
Steps to Recovering Your Identity:
Contact each health care provider and request your medical records. Once you have your records, review them for any errors or services that you do not recognize. Be sure to report errors to your healthcare provider, insurance carrier, and all nationwide credit bureaus. In addition to your medical records, you should order copies of your credit report and review it for any discrepancies. Click here for a detailed checklist to help walk you through these steps.