Medical Identity theft occurs when another person steals and uses your personal information for fraudulent medical claims. It is important to guard your private medical information to prevent medical identity theft.
It can disrupt your medical care and waste taxpayer dollars. You should be vigilant when reviewing your medical bills to report any questionable charges or fraud.
There are several methods that criminals can use to steal your medical identity. They can obtain your personal information from old medical documents or health insurance cards. They can also send emails and call you through legitimate channels. The purpose is for you to reveal your information. Be wary of any entity seeking your personal medical information unless it is an authorized medical professional.
After the thief obtains enough details about you, they may be able to visit a doctor’s office, have a medical procedure done, or make other attempts to use your health insurance benefits in your name. After the medical procedure is completed, you will be responsible for the medical bills if the imposter fails to pay for the medical services. Unpaid medical bills can hurt your financial situation and impact your credit report.
Besides the financial burden of medical theft, it can prevent you from receiving the proper care during emergencies. It can create duplicates in medical records in your name that can be challenging to distinguish from your legitimate records. Due to this, the doctors may prescribe the wrong treatments, which can harm your health.
Medical identity theft can impact your health insurance records. Each time a fraud has occurred regarding your medical history, incorrect information is received from this transaction. This creates confusion and can result in unnecessary delays for your legitimate medical care.
How to Protect Your Medical Information From Theft?
There are certain ways to safeguard yourself and others from having their medical information stolen. Below is a brief description of these precautions:
- Safeguard any documents that have personal medical identifiable medical information;
- Be vigilant about maintaining your medical records and health insurance information that contains any billing details;
- Keep the Explanation of Benefits statements from your health insurance company for your records;
Furthermore, the preferred method to destroy these documents is shredding them. This is a guaranteed way any scammers will not obtain your information. However, if this is not a feasible option for you, you can use a permanent marker to cross out any personal information.
Also, any mail you receive with medical information and bill statements, make sure you take it out of the mailbox as soon as possible. You can keep it in a safe place in your home and get rid of it as you need to when you no longer need the information. Each person must be proactive in safeguarding and properly getting rid of their medical identifiable information. Doing this can mitigate your chances of being a victim of medical identity theft.
How to Know if Someone Is Using Your Medical Information?
There are warning signs that can be detected early on to determine if someone is stealing and using your medical information. Below is a brief breakdown of what some of these warning signs can be according to the 2021 Federal Consumer Report:
- There is an error in your Explanation of Benefits, and it does not show accurate information about your claim;
- There is a bill from your doctor for services you did not obtain;
- You receive a call from a debt collector regarding a medical debt you do not owe;
- You receive a notice from your health insurance that you have reached your benefits limit;
- The insurance company denies your coverage because your medical records show a pre-existing condition that you do not have any and;
- You review your credit report, and medical debt collection notices are inaccurate.
What Are the Types of Medical Identity Theft Scams?
There are several different types of medical identity thefts. This can disrupt your finances and medical care negatively. It can even prevent or delay you from receiving medical care when identity theft includes your medical records. Below is a description of how medical ID thieves can scam their victims.
First, the thief may pretend to be the patient and undergo the medical procedure. However, instead of paying at the time of the service, they will request that the copay be billed to you. You, as the insurance holder, will be on the hook for completing the payment.
Moreover, prescriptions can be picked up from local pharmacies or from an online source claiming that you purchased large quantities of drugs through your health plan. The scammer will use your insurance ID to get the medications. They can also resell these in the black market to make more money.
Furthermore, there could be fraudulent email links seeking your medical data. Be wary of anyone asking for your health insurance information, such as your group member or participant ID.
Another common scam is unsolicited phone calls for health insurance information. In some situations, the thief may have some of the information but not all, and they will try to obtain it from you through false claims. Remember, they can also pose as Medicare staffers seeking to verify your insurance data and be careful not to disclose any of your medical information.
What Is the Cost of Medical Identity Theft?
Unfortunately, there are mental and physical costs associated with medical identity fraud. You may be in a tough position, having to prove you were a victim of fraud. There is also a risk of losing access to your healthcare if the fraud maxed out your annual benefit.
First, it is crucial to look for the warning signs mentioned earlier. Be on top of your medical bills and review the bill statements to make sure that it is your accurate medical information. Besides the risks and losses stated above, your financial situation can negatively impact you. Your credit score will suffer if you have piles of unpaid medical bills. This can cause a mental breakdown because of the financial burden and the stress that the bills are not yours.
Moreover, you can be denied medical care in emergencies. Victims of fraud may not be able to receive the proper medical care. The creditors may want to investigate the situation beforehand, and this can cause a delay in your medical treatment. If you do not get the proper care at the right time, it can increase your costs on the medical side because you may need additional treatment.
Lastly, you must contact other parties impacted by the fraud, which can waste your time and energy. Moreover, you may need to temporarily hold or block all future credit inquiries and credit card purchases. This can result in more mental anguish and anxiety in trying to clear up the situation.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
Medical identity theft is a horrific crime, whose consequences can drastically impact your ability to receive proper medical care. The financial burden of paying the scammer’s medical bills can negatively impact your financial security.
Following simple methods to prevent this from happening is crucial. If you are a victim of medical identity fraud do not hesitate to contact your identity theft lawyer near you to seek assistance. You must act immediately to ensure you are not blocked from accessing your medical information during emergencies.