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The Risks Associated With Medical Identity Theft


Posted on November 26, 2014

The Risks Associated With Medical Identity TheftAs we detailed in our last article, medical identity theft is a growing concern in the American healthcare system. Although the cyber crime is still a relatively new concept, the number of people affected by medical identity theft has risen significantly each and every year for the past 5 years. People are slowly becoming more aware of the crime and the damaging effects that it can produce, but this has not helped slow the number of medical identity theft cases. In order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of medical identity theft, it is important to understand the crime itself and what you need to be looking out for.

What Can Criminals Do With My Data?

In the previous article, we detailed several reasons why medical identity theft has become so popular with cyber criminals. Medical identity theft is a fairly simple crime to commit for many hackers and the information that can be gained from medical records can provide hackers with tons of value. Personal medical information can be useful to many different types of criminals and therefore, it is worth more on the black market than even financial information.

When criminals are able to steal an individual’s medical identity, they have a multitude of opportunities that they can take advantage of with this data. First, there are the possibilities for financial fraud. Your medical records contain a large amount of personal information such as your name, date of birth, social security number, credit card information, drivers license number, bank account numbers, and physical characteristics. With access to your credit card information, bank account numbers, and social security number hackers have all they need to commit various types of financial fraud. Criminals who have stolen this information can use it most obviously to make fraudulent charges and purchases under your name. They also have the ability to apply for consumer loans and open new checking accounts under your name which would further allow them to spend money on your behalf. Furthermore, this information can be used to file false tax returns, and all of these acts can land you in serious trouble. Allowing criminals to use this information can ruin your credit, put you in bad financial situations, and even get you in trouble with the law.

In addition to the financial issues that can be created by medical identity theft, there are also several problems that can arise from the actual medical information that has been stolen. When criminals have access to all of your medical information, they can use or falsify information on your records to gain access to various expensive prescription drugs and treatments. Criminals can also sell the actual information in your medical records for profit. For example, if an individual’s records say that they have an STD that requires continuous treatment, this information can be sold to data companies. These companies then pass on the information to companies like hospitals and pharmaceutical companies who use this information to market to potential customers. In more serious cases, criminals can use your information and physical characteristics to help them illegally obtain a passport or visa in your name. These are only a few examples of types of fraud that can be committed with your medical record data.

Can Medical Identity Theft Be Prevented?

Medical identity theft presents the risks of both medical information fraud and financial fraud making it a very dangerous situation that you definitely want to avoid. In order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim, it is best to be aware of what exactly is in your medical records at all times. The best way to do this is to make sure that you have immediate access to your medical records. There are actually several precautions that you can take to help ensure that your medical identity is never stolen. We will discuss these tips and more in our next news article.

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