Although less well-known than identity theft that targets your financial accounts, medical identity theft can be just as much of a nightmare. Discovering that someone else is using your information to get medical care or prescriptions can leave you feeling horribly violated and can have other negative outcomes. It may make it more difficult to get the medical care you need or cause a doctor to provide you with the wrong type of treatment in the future. Here is more information you need to know on how to keep medical ID theft from plaguing you.
- Only give your personal information – including account or insurance information – to those you know to be trustworthy.
- A good rule of thumb for protecting your information is to only give it out when YOU are the one who has initiated the contact. In other words, don’t give your information to anyone emailing, calling or texting you for it. Instead, call the company or organization the contact is supposedly coming from and confirm whether they actually need your information.
- Buy a crosscut shredder to destroy any documents that have potentially sensitive information, including medical data of any kind.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued the following list of warning signs that you may be a victim of medical ID theft:
- you get a bill for medical services you didn’t receive;
- a debt collector contacts you about medical debt you don’t owe;
- you order a copy of your credit report and see medical collection notices you don’t recognize;
- you try to make a legitimate insurance claim and your health plan says you’ve reached your limit on benefits; or
- you are denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- Additionally, you should examine closely any Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements from your health plan provider after you have had any kind of medical treatment. Check to see if there are any charges you don’t recognize. If you receive Medicare, look closely at your benefits summary notice.
- Any good identity theft prevention plan involves reviewing your credit reports regularly. When you go over the reports, pay special attention to any collections accounts you don’t recognize. If there are any that don’t ring a bell, contact the collections agency and ask them who held the debt originally. If it is a medical debt for services you didn’t receive, contact the provider of the services to get more information.
As with other types of identity theft, it is vitally important for you to file a police report. Once you have a copy for yourself, send extra photocopies to your health plan’s fraud investigators and your health care providers with a letter explaining the situation.
- Have your health plan and healthcare providers change any account numbers or IDs that had been assigned to you.
- Once your health plan and providers have received a copy of the police report, let them know that you want to use your rights under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, to have your medical record cleared of any incorrect information.
- Contact your financial institution and creditors if you think the activity may have compromised your financial accounts.