Medical Identity Theft is More than a Health Sector Problem
Insights from Your Trusted Data Destruction Professionals in Philadelphia
A rapidly growing strain of identity theft, medical identity theft has left thousands of families devastated in its wake. Studies indicate that about 65% of the victims pay an average of $13,500 to resolve the situation and recover from the theft. While healthcare continues to rank as one of the most vulnerable sectors for data breaches, medical identity theft is more than just a breach of your health information. It involves hacking of your Social Security number, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or health insurance number in order to receive medical services or purchase medical products. For example, fraudsters could use your PII for getting tests or surgeries, purchasing prescriptions or medical equipment, and sending bills and claims to you, or filing false claims with your insurance provider.
At TITAN Mobile Shredding, we offer industry-specific data destruction solutions and are well-versed with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and other privacy protection laws applicable to the healthcare sector. Our qualified and experienced professionals offer some insights into medical identity theft and suggest preventative steps to ensure that you or your business do not fall prey to such crimes.
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of Medical Identity Theft
Statistics show that while stolen credit or debit card information sells on the dark web for up to $110 per account, stolen medical records fetch up to $1,000 depending on the completeness of information and the number of records. The motivation or incentive for stealing medical records or Protected Health Information (PHI) is definitely higher than that for stealing financial records alone.
When someone uses your PII or Protected Health Information (PHI) for gaining medical care or a medical insurance claim, it can not only put a dent in your credit score but also mess your insurance policy and claims eligibility. Based on the nature of the theft, it is possible that your medical records were altered, which means you may have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for the medical facilities that you need.
Here are some suggestions that will help you remain vigilant, protect yourself and your family from being victims of medical identity theft, or at the very least, make recovery easier:
- Check your medical records at least once a year to know that everything is in order.
- Neatly file and store copies of your medical records and bills (physical or digital) as proof of correct information.
- Monitor your credit score. If unpaid bills eventually wind up as pending in your name, they could hurt your credit.
- Follow due protocols to report a stolen or lost health card and apply for a new one immediately.
- Be wary of any calls, texts, or emails that ask you to part with your PII or PHI without verifying their source or authenticity.
- Carefully review any notices from your doctors, labs, pharmacies, or health plan providers and keep an eye out for any unusual activities.
- Shred old or redundant medical documents, drives, disk tapes, and X-Rays instead of simply dumping them in the trash.
What to Do if You are a Victim of Medical Identity Theft?
Received any bills or documents for services you did not use? Found out about any insurance claims that you did not submit? Noticed any errors in your medical records? Suspect that you are a victim of a medical identity theft? As immediate next steps,
- Consider freezing your credit or add a fraud alert to your credit reports.
- Contact your medical providers and seek documented explanations for any changes made to your information, along with copies of the inaccurate records or anomalies in services used.
- Report your situation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in order to file an identity theft report and receive a recovery plan. In some cases, you may have to file a police report as well.
While you may take all the necessary precautions for preserving your medical records and information, remember to apply similar safeguards during records destruction as well. For reliable and affordable paper shredding and hard drive destruction services, count on a NAID AAA Certified company, such as TITAN Mobile Shredding. We offer residential, as well as commercial on-site and off-site shredding services, for both, physical records and drives, as well as digital media.
Call (866) 848-2699 or contact us online to discuss your requirements or learn more about our services.