Through Insurance Scams
According to research conducted by the Ponemon Institute, medical identity theft affects over 1.8 million individuals in the United States and is growing each year. The institute states that cases of medical-related identity theft rose about 20 percent from 2012 to 2013. Criminals steal your information and defraud both you and healthcare providers of money through a variety of insurance and data-phishing scams.
Common Medical Fraud Scams
It’s becoming increasingly difficult, though not impossible, for criminals to get personal identifying information about patients from healthcare providers. This is due in part to strict compliance and HIPAA regulations requiring medical providers and insurance companies to safeguard patient information. As a result, criminals have begun to target patients, phishing for information such as social security numbers and insurance IDs.
Common scams include:
- Illegal or inflated billing to your insurance company.
- Unethical medical providers using your insurance to obtain free or low-cost addictive drugs for their own use or for selling to others.
- Bogus health fairs that offer freebies like blood pressure monitoring while identity thieves copy Medicare card information.
- Unexpected phone calls from individuals who claim to be with your insurance or medical provider’s office and ask for personal information.
Protecting Yourself Against Medical Identity Theft
Take steps to protect your medical and personal information. Keep copies of medical records, bills, and cards in secure locations and shred them when they are out of date or no longer useful. Never provide sensitive information such as health insurance IDs, date of birth, or social security numbers to an unverified caller. If you aren’t sure a caller is legitimate, ask for a phone number and say you will call them back with any information.
Experts also advise caution when using email or social media. Never Tweet or share personal medical information on Facebook. Something as simple as sharing or complaining about a health concern online could open the door for a phishing scam.
Have you been a victim of medical identity theft? How did they get your confidential information?