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Identity Theft: Medical Mayhem

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What is Medical Identity Theft?

Medical identity theft is the act of using someone else’s personal information to seek medical attention or access medical services. Unfortunately, during a medical emergency situation, details of persons medical information is often overlooked – this means that simply knowing the name, date of birth and address of an individual can be enough.

 

How Does It Affect Me?

Direct Effects

Medical identity theft allows the thief access to your medical information – giving them the power to change your medical records without your knowledge. They may also add illnesses you do not have when seeking medical care under your name, thereby changing your medical records. It also allows them to access medical care at your expense; their access to medical services will be billed to you. Some may use your details to obtain prescription drugs to use or to sell on the black market.

Indirect Effects

Although the direct damage to your medical expenses can be devastating, medical identity theft can also ruin your credit ratings. Large medical bills that are callously managed, reckless spending and all the time spent struggling with claiming medical fraud can ruin your ratings for months, even years. This can spill over into higher interest rates or cold rejection from banks for loans or mortgages and may even cost you your job as some employers monitor credit history as a measure of reliability.

Incorrect medical information can have severe consequences – this can include being labelled as the wrong blood type or registered for medication you may be allergic to. Altered medical records can be very difficult to change or remove and can have long lasting effects like increased life insurance and future health insurance premiums.

 

How Will I Know If My Medical Identity Has Been Stolen?

Often the first sign will be a billing discrepancy – expenses added to your account detailing medical services you did not receive. Other signs could be mistakes on your medical records, medical collection notice from your medical aid, notification of benefit limit on health insurance or unqualified rejection from health insurance companies.

 

What Can I Do If My Medical Identity Is Stolen?

You can contact various experts to fight health care and medical identity theft like the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Hotline, Medicare Call centre and senior Medicare patrols or your local Medicare patrol to try to resolve any record errors.

 

How Do I Prevent Myself from Being A Victim?

Don’t give your social security or Medicare number to other people to use. Make sure you keep your social security and Medicare numbers in a safe place. Be careful of sites, emails or people who offer you free medical advice or equipment if you enter your personal details into their system. Some call pretending to be conducting a survey. Remember that if it’s free or a simply health survey, Medicare details are not necessary. Check your medical bills, Medicare summary notes and your credit report regularly. Keep up-to-date with the benefits of your health schemes and your monthly status. If you notice anything suspicious, contact your health care provider immediately as it may just be a clerical error. If not, raise your suspicions with Medicare or with your local patrols or the Inspector General. The more time you leave a discrepancy, the longer the criminal has to ruin your credit or alter your medical records.

 

Be vigilant. Identify discrepancies. Act Quickly.