Identity Theft – A New Type You Probably haven’t Heard of!

Last Update: February 12, 2021 Financial News Fraud Identity Theft

The jeopardy of identity theft are well known to a good number of people, perhaps you included! Right, imagine a situation where someone who has access to some of your personal info, such as Social Security Number, uses it to access your cash or credit. Isn’t that irritating?

To me, the mere thought of it comes with massive headaches and tantrums, at the very least. Did you work for the money? Therefore any Cent that disappears into nothingness drives you crazy. Worse still, such criminals have come up with several techniques to access your information. There are many forms of identity theft you would be surprised to find out about. Nonetheless, there’s one kind that’s becoming rampant today. Perhaps you have heard of medical identity theft, or maybe you haven’t. Either way, the bottom line stays thick and clear.  You ran the risk of losing huge sums of dollars. Be on the look!

In response to the situation, the Federal Trade Commission has sounded an alarm to all consumers about this mounting danger. A statement from the commission about medical identity theft goes, “A thief may use your name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with your insurance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s health information is mixed with yours, your treatment, insurance and payment records, and credit report may be affected.”

Basically, from the above statement, anyone receiving medical insurance can learn a lot. A wise folk need not too many words to tell what the consequences of medical identity theft would add up to.

An Emergent Problem

Well, just in case the mention of it never sounded much of an issue to you, here’s how rapidly medical identity theft is growing. A Report from the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) – a commission set up to deal with medical identity scam- shows that approximately 2.3 million Americans had fallen victims of the fraud by 2014, a rise of 22% over 2013.

Let’s face it, that’s a large number, and at that fast rate, something’s got to be done.

As if not enough, the MIFA, with the help of Ponemon Institute, has surveyed Americans and realized that among all victims of medical identity theft, up to 65%, about 2/3, ended up parting with an average of $13,500 to sort out the issues. Additionally, the victims wasted a lot of time, say about 200 hours trying to sort out their cases.

Experts at MIFA revealed that only 10% reached an absolutely satisfactory conclusion to the case out of all the victims who committed fraud. And while almost 1/5 of victims underwent a fall in their credit score, about 1/3 completely lost their health insurance.

The notion has it that part of the problem most likely arises from security breaches and cyber-attacks at chief corporations in which thousands or millions of consumer data is stolen at once as was seen at Anthem (America’s 2nd largest health insurer), and even more, only just some time ago in Premera Blue Cross in Washington State.

The Premera Blue Cross’ fraud is said to have affected 11 million consumers. Recently a report explained that “the invaders may have gained access to claims info, including clinical data, along with banking account numbers, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and other personal information in a fraud that began in May 2014, and was shockingly uncovered on January 29 of this year.”

Anthem believes that medical data was never stolen in its breach, yet the figures shoot to a scaring 80 million victims.

How to Stay Safe?

Prevention is better than cure. It goes without mentioning. As luck would have it, you are not completely helpless in this situation if you are already trembling. Keep calm and spare me a few seconds to take you through some precautions to reduce your chances of falling a victim.

  • Make sure your credit reports are regularly checked for any odd unpaid bills

It is important to check your credit reports as there might be strange bills that an identity thief might have generated. Did you know that you are entitled to a single free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three core reporting departments? To be safe, make sure you have your documents. To get your mathematics right, ensure your space out all the three annual copies, getting one after every four months. This gives you regular information than when you make requests at the end of every year.

  • Be familiar with your health insurance portability and accountability act

It is very important to learn your Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Knowing your rights puts you on better grounds to avoid or settle any disputes in the event of one. You also need to seek guidance on things like electronic health records if your healthcare providers use such techniques. Consequently, this will help you if you check for, especially if you suspect or realize you’ve fallen prey.

Always take time to read your explanation-of-benefits statements from the service providers to check for any deceitful charges. It is helpful to know that you can always seek an “accounting of disclosures” from your medical providers. This is basically a listing of individuals who have received your data and what info they gained access to. You can easily have all these at hand. After all, the law dictates that you should access a copy every year from each service provider.

  • Don’t give out your personal info to friends or family members

Beyond family and friends, I guess some things are too personal, therefore keep what’s meant for you to yourself. Giving out some personal information about you may help them get access to some medical care. The report from MIFA points out that about 30% of those who fell victims had given out pinpointing information to a sibling or friend.

Always stay on the watchtower for frauds! Be wary of strangers who claim to work for a healthcare company and begin offering you some services free of charge or for a seemingly throw-away price, seeking for your Social Security number or any other personal data.

The rule is simple: don’t give out what’s personal to strangers lest you suffer huge losses due to identity theft!

Here is What to Do in Case You Fall a Victim

Anyone can fall prey to these traps set by criminals. If it comes to your attention that you have been victimized – which may take several months before you notice, maybe after receiving an unanticipated bill – make sure you report it to the relevant authorities immediately.

Apparently, a large number of people do not report medical identity theft for one reason or another. Not to sound critical about it, though, for whatever reason, personally, I wouldn’t take that lying down. Conversely, some let their cases go unreported because of embarrassment (maybe if they had given out their info to a trusted one, they suspect to have leaked it out).

The other group suffers because of their lack of knowledge. Such individuals don’t just know where to report their cases. Well, your solution lies right next to you. Such problems may be reported to the healthcare provider, the responsible insurance company, and the federal state authorities. You may also contact your local police department, the office of the state’s Attorney General, or the Department of Health Services.

As much as we may term medical identity theft as a creepy scam, there are several precautions we ought to take while receiving medical insurance from different insurers and healthcare providers. The mentioned tactics will help you minimize its damage should you become a victim or avoid it completely.