Identity thieves don’t limit themselves to your credit cards and bank accounts. Medical identity theft happens when a criminal uses your personal information—such as a Social Security number, Medicare number, or health plan ID number—to receive medical care, or falsely bill for medical services under your name. According to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, more than two million Americans have been victims of medical identity theft. Read on to learn how to keep your information safe.
Signs of Medical Identity Theft
The exact warning signs of healthcare identity theft will vary depending on the situation. Keep an eye out for the following:
How to Prevent Medical Identity Theft
As with any sort of identity fraud, preventing medical identity fraud begins with protecting your personal information, both in paper form and online. Read our Identity Theft Protection Checklist and our guide to protecting your identity online for best practices. In addition, carefully read your medical and insurance statements with an eye for suspicious activity. This includes both Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements and Medicare Summary Notices. Verify the name of the provider, date of service, and service provided. If something doesn’t add up, contact your health plan to report the problem. Keep a record of this correspondence.
Recovering from Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft cases can take a lot of legwork to unravel. As a first step in any sort of identity theft, report your case to the Federal Trade Commission. From there, begin the process of requesting and correcting your medical records. Follow these steps and document who you contact and when as you go:
○ If a provider denies you your records for any reason, such as the privacy of the thief, you can appeal. Contact the person listed in your provider’s Notice of Privacy Practices, patient representative, or ombudsman.
○ If the provider refuses to provide your records within 30 days of your written request, file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office.
○ Using certified mail with return receipt requested, write a letter that highlights the errors. Include a copy of the appropriate medical records and the report you filed with the FTC.
○ In your letter explain why the errors are wrong. There are a number of ways you might do this, such as showing that a physical description of the thief does not match you, noting that you were out of town during the time of the appointment, or—in the case of a surgery—proving you don’t have the resulting scar.
Learn more about recovering from identity theft.