It’s an ordinary day, you’re opening mail, and you
find a hospital bill for a visit to the emergency room. Problem is, you never
received care there… in fact, you’ve never visited that state.
Medical identity theft is the
fraudulent use of your personally identifiable information (PII) such as your
insurance number or Social Security number to receive medical services,
prescriptions or equipment. It is far more costly than credit card theft, takes
more time to resolve and has potentially life altering consequences.
Here are a few examples of medical identity theft and how it can impact your own
- A thief who uses your good name to
get medical care may have a different blood type. In the event you are in need
of urgent care and cannot communicate, the medical team may only have medical
records to rely on to provide your care. If part of that care involves
receiving blood, you could be given the wrong type.
medical procedures and diagnoses to blood tests and allergies, having incorrect
medical records could delay any care you require due to prior treatments given
to a thief under your name.
- If a thief uses your PII for
medical care, you could get pinged for any applicable co-pays and deductibles
on your plan. If those bills are not promptly paid, they could get sent to
collections, thus impacting your credit report.
To protect yourself from medical identity theft, be sure to carefully review any
Explanation of Benefits documents you receive from your insurance provider. If
you suspect you are the victim of medical identity theft, contact your
insurance provider right away. The
Federal Trade Commission provides a great, comprehensive checklist to
help walk you through the process of resolving medical identity theft.