Executive Director, Coalition Against Insurance Fraud
Ronnie Bogle’s own brother hijacked his medical information to secretly steal expensive ER treatments under Ronnie’s health policy. Unpaid hospital bills ruined Ronnie’s credit; he couldn’t even get a new credit card.
An elderly man nearly received penicillin at an ER — except he had a life- threatening penicillin allergy. A stranger had received penicillin treatment using the senior’s stolen identity.
Frequent hospital hacks also funnel your medical identities to crime rings trolling the Dark Web. Scammers soak your health policy with false treatment claims.
Welcome to medical identity theft — a persistent threat and fastest-growing form of ID thievery.
You can pay a steep price: ruined credit, denied loans and mortgages, hounded for unpaid hospital bills, years and dollars rebuilding your good name, and life-threatening medicines on your health records.
New-gen technology is revamping how people receive health care. It’s also opening hackable rabbit holes allowing thieves to steal your valuable medical information. Anyone can be vulnerable — especially millennials as voracious device-users.
More people access their patient health portals, records and health services via mobile devices. Remote health care with patients consuming health services outside of brick-and-mortar locations is emerging.
Casually posting your medical issues on social-media sites — such as your leg injury — also attracts ID thieves. They can combine your social information and stolen health data to create a convincing patient profile that better steals from your health policy.
Prevention is key
Protect your sensitive medical information. Your good life and health may depend on your being smarter than smart ID thieves. Here are six tips:
- Lock your mobile devices. Set a strong password or PIN for your devices.
- Read your Explanation of Benefits statement closely. Watch for medical procedures you’ve never had.
- Check your credit reports lodged with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Avoid being chatty about your health on social sites.
- Dodge giving your social security number to medical providers? Most don’t need it.
- Health care apps are popular, but are they secure? Don’t store your login info on the app. (Hint: Avoid handling sensitive health information using troller-vulnerable public Wi-Fi.)