Think it's difficult to repair your credit report after an id theft? Cleaning up after a Medical Identity Theft is worse...

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A recent article in the NY times points out that medical identity theft is a growing concern. The article points to the last time federal data on the crime was collected, for a 2007 report, where it was discovered that more than 250,000 Americans a year reported being victims of medical identity theft.

The article, Medical Problems Could Include Identity Theft spotlights victim Brandon Sharp of Spring Texas who learned he was a victim of medical identity theft after he applied for a mortgage. When he reviewed his credit reports he discovered his file was laced with medical debts for emergency room visits at facilities he had never visited. "...In Mr. Sharp's case, someone got hold of his name and Social Security number and used them to receive emergency medical services, which many hospitals are obliged to provide whether or not a person has insurance."

As I've noted in previous blogs, medical identity theft can be a far more menacing form of identity theft than the more commonly known types of financial identity theft.

In fact, forms of id theft such as both medical identity theft and criminal identity theft can leave a trail of "records" that could significantly affect your life for quite some time. And If you think removing inaccurate accounts or fraudulent data from your credit report is challenging --try cleaning up your medical (or criminal) records after suffering an identity theft! The adverse affects of fraud whether caused by a  data breach or a stolen wallet can all too often affect far more than just your credit report. And when your medical history is altered due to fraud, the result can turn life threatening.   

Due to privacy laws, physicians find it difficult balancing the privacy rights of the thief -and that of the victim. HIPPA laws can work against the victim and medical facilities when faced with the dilemma of dealing with the privacy rights of two patients -both the victim and the impostor.   

As you can imagine, any misdiagnosis or tainted medical information that makes its way into a victim's medical file, such as blood types, diseases or previously noted surgeries can carry potentially life threatening consequences. If the patient, medical facility, pharmacy or physician does not know that due to fraud, particular data belongs to someone other than the patient, any future  treatments, diagnosis and medicines can be easily skewed and cause a deadly effect. 

Here's a link to Walecia Konrad's NY Times article; that additionally points out that when medical identity theft occurs;

"... someone can use stolen insurance information, like the basic member ID and group policy number found on insurance cards, to impersonate you -- and receive everything from a routine physical to major surgery under your coverage. This is surprisingly easy to do, because many doctors and hospitals do not ask for identification beyond insurance information.

Even more common, however, are cases where medical information is stolen by insiders at a medical office. Thieves download vital personal insurance data and related information from the operation's computerized medical records, then sell it on the black market or use it themselves to make fraudulent billing claims.
See full article.

Take control of your identity -before someone else does!

For more information on medical identity theft, what to watch out for and tips to avoid it -see a couple earlier blogs;

Credit Card Companies Fueling Health Care Associated Identity Theft

Medical Identity Theft can be challenging

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