Medical identity theft, the fastest-growing new form of identity theft, is one that many individuals aren’t even aware of, according to a new Nationwide Insurance survey.
Only 15 percent of insured adults said they were familiar with the new form of identity theft. Of that percentage, only 38 percent could correctly define the term, “medical identity.”
The crime occurs when an individual steals another’s medical information to obtain or pay for medical treatment. What many are unaware of, though, is that it can have a serious impact on personal, financial and medical well-being. In addition to illegally using your healthcare for treatment, an individual who obtains your medical ID could file false insurance claims in your name or buy prescription drugs, all of which could lead to damaging financial results.
“A stolen medical identity has a $50 street value – whereas a stolen Social Security number, on the other hand, only sells for $1,” said Kirk Herath, Nationwide chief privacy officer. “However, while most people are very careful with their Social Security number to protect their credit and personal information, they tend to be less careful when it comes to their medical information.”
In addition, 22 percent of respondents felt the most likely consequence of an individual stealing their medical ID was that their health insurance would be cancelled, when in reality, dangerous changes could be made to their medical records, which would affect their health.
Herath urged individuals to stay proactive in protecting their medical identities, the same way they keep a close eye on Social Security numbers and personal financial reports. Keeping blind faith in a medical record is risky behavior, he said.
In order to protect against medical ID theft, Canadian individuals and businesses would do well to consider working with a document disposal service to ensure that old medical records are properly disposed of and don’t fall into the wrong hands.
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