Medical Identity Theft
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What Is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft takes place when an individual steals your personal information, such as your Social Security number, birth date, and/or Medicare number, with the intent to use such information to gain access to medical care, and purchase medicines. The thieves may even go so far as to send Medicare or your medical insurance company the bill in your name. If there are medical bills that are not covered by your insurance company, you may be pursued by collection companies.
The results of medical identity theft can be devastating, for it can cause you to experience damage to your credit rating, which, in turn, can adversely your ability to find a job, and obtain a loan; your life may also be at risk because your medical records might contain incorrect information.
What Are Some Common Ways to Steal Your Identity?
You may be approached in a public place, such as a parking lot or shopping center, by someone offering to provide you with free services, groceries, and transportation; in return, the person may request your Medicare number.
Another fraudulent method is a phone call by an individual pretending to be conducting a health survey, and in the process, that person requests your Medicare number. In order to protect and safeguard your identity, it is imperative that you not lend or permit anyone to compensate you for using your Medicare or Social Security number.
How Can You Determine Whether You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?
There are some steps that you can take in order to determine whether you are a victim of identity theft. It is best to carefully scrutinize your medical bills in order to make certain that you were not charged for any services that you did not receive. Make sure that the dates of services and charges coincide with the dates on which you received those services, and that you were not charged for the same service more than once.
It is also advisable for you to check your credit report to see if there are any outstanding bills for medical services that you did not receive. You may further wish to open all of your mail to see if you received any notices from collection agencies for medical services you did not receive.
What If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?
If you notice that you were charged for services that you did not receive, the first step is to communicate with your health care provider. In the event that your provider fails to resolve the issue, contact Medicare or your medical insurance company. If you believe that fraud was committed, contact the Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General. Moreover, if you believe someone is fraudulently using your personal information, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Should I Consult an Attorney?
If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, you may consider consulting an attorney who can assist you with the filing of a police report and FTC complaint, as well as advise you on what further action to take.
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Last Modified: 09-30-2014 01:00 PM PDT
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