Protect Your Identity and Data

5 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Identity Theft

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You monitor your credit reports to protect your financial identity. You monitor social media to protect your online reputation. You may also want to monitor the information you routinely provide medical providers, such as your address, Social Security number and insurance provider. The threat isn’t just financial: if another person’s information is mixed with yours, your medical records – and treatments – may be affected.

Medical identity theft is when someone uses another person’s name and information to get medical service or make false claims. Once information is stolen a thief may see a doctor, get prescription drugs or file claims with an insurance provider. Medical identity theft cost the healthcare industry $41 billion in 2012, with half of all healthcare organizations affected by the crime.

To better safeguard your medical identity, consider these precautions:

  1. Be careful about sharing your health plan identification for health services that are supposed to be “free.”
  2. Don’t share information with anyone over the phone or by email unless you initiated the contact and know who you’re dealing with.
  3. Keep paper and electronic copies of your medical and health insurance records in a safe place. Shred outdated health insurance forms, prescription and physician statements, and the labels from prescription bottles before you throw them out.
  4. If you’re asked to provide personal information on a website find out why it’s needed, how it will be kept safe, whether it will be shared and with whom.
  5. If you decide to share your information online, look for a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL that begins “https:” the “s” is for secure.
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