Insider Identity Theft Growing Amid South FL Hospitals

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Since 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services has received reports that hundreds of thousands of patients have been affected by breaches at hospitals across Florida. Miami resident Joseph Szot says he was victim. South FL NBC 6's Myriam Masihy reports the south Miami case is the latest hospital ID theft to surface in South Florida.

Hundreds of thousands of patients have been affected by breaches at hospitals across South Florida and those with the largest reported breaches include Memorial Healthcare System with 111,650 patients affected, the University of Miami Health System with 66,065 people, Mount Sinai Medical Center with 2,600 patients and Jackson Health System with 2,062 patients.

Although many hospitals have had more breaches, a federal act called HITECH only requires that medical centers report breaches that affect more than 500 patients. 

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Szot doesn't blame South Miami hospital. He said he believes companies in general should find a way to reduce the risk of security breaches. "I think corporations use social security numbers too much for identifying you, putting the information out to too many people," he said. The IRS said hospitals have been cooperating with them to combat identity theft, a growing crime.

So how can you avoid becoming a victim at a hospital? Linda Quick, President of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, says "you do not have to provide your social security number, but you do have to provide enough information for you to be distinguishable from other people."

Though the HHS reports, health insurance companies have had breaches affecting millions of Floridians, it's not just hospitals that ID theft rings infiltrate. Employees or other 'insiders' who have access to your personally identifying are rarely viewed as a risk, though law enforcement officials across the country have been reminding the public; no industry is immune.

This economic recession has taken its toll --leaving many struggling families desperate to find ways to get by. Desperate people do desperate things, and stealing data for profit, has become an increasingly popular crime of opportunity.

To find tips and educational resources to help you avoid identity theft visit the Federal Trade Commission's website here:  FTC's website.

Stay alert to today's many identity theft risks and informed about the various scams, threats. Utilize the many free resources available today to help you, your family and your employees fight fraud and stay safe online


Source: NBC6, Miami

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