The Difference: Identity Theft & Medical Identity Theft
August 12, 2019 | Civil Rights
Identity theft, which is basically stealing someone’s financial and personal information for personal gain, is considered to be the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
In the US, identity theft costs people around $5 billion annually.
Personal information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, address, and bank information are what is needed for someone to steal a person’s identity.
Once personal information has been stolen the thief will us your identity to open bank accounts, hack into your own bank, take out lines of credit and loans in your name and run up other expenses.
Of course, they never intend to pay anything and it is your money, your credit, and your good name that gets ruined in the process.
According to the NAIC around 675,000 identity theft complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission a few years ago and of those cases, as much as 30 percent were filed by young adults and persons ages 18-24, the most likely to be victims of identity theft.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Identity thieves can quickly destroy the good credit you have and the damage they cause can take years to unravel.
To reduce your risk of becoming a victim these simple tips should always be in the back of our minds:
- Protect your SSN by never carrying your card in your wallet and do not give out or provide your SSN unless absolutely necessary and you know who you are giving it to!
- Protect your PIN and other financial information and bank records safe by not sharing passwords and pins and keeping records of all major financial transactions.
- Collect mail every day and do not let the mailbox accumulate mail and if you are missing mail you should be getting, particularly financial statements, connect them right away!
- Keep your receipts so you can compare everything to your monthly statements and look for unfamiliar transactions and activity and report and discrepancies you discover.
- Shred, cut up, and properly dispose of financial records, old credit and bank cards, and other documents that may have personal information or sensitive details on them.
- Store personal information where it is safe such as on a secure computer with multiple backup copies stored in safe locations where snooping eyes cannot see.
- Do not give out personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you to initiate a discussion – make sure they are legitimate by hanging up and calling the company directly.
- Check your credit report at least once ever year to look for potential problems so you can see when something is off or if fraudulent activity is going on sooner rather than later!
Medical Identity Theft
As if the thought of someone stealing your identity and ruining your financial life was not bad enough, there is also medial identity theft.
What would happen if you were rushed to the hospital with heart problems, but your medical records showed that you had recently been treated with a pacemaker?
Or what if you were in the ER with appendicitis but your records showed that you had your appendix out when you were a child?
The confusion from this conflicting information could delay treatment and could cost you your life.
What if your blood type as not listed correctly on the medical file?
Or what if your severe allergies to penicillin or aspirin were not noted?
This is the situation more and more people are finding themselves in as more people become victims of medical identity theft.
It is a rapidly-growing problem that far too few people know about or fully understand.
What is it?
Medical Identity Theft in the U.S. occurs when someone uses your identifying information when they are admitted to the hospital, go for medical treatments, or to get drugs, prescriptions, and medical devices.
“It’s an insidious crime and the consequences can be deadly,” said Robin Slade with the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA).
“This fraud causes your medical records to get contaminated by the perpetrator’s medical information, so it could literally kill you.”
And it is no slow growing problem either as cases of medical identity theft have jumped more than 20 percent within the last year, according a number of studies conducted on medical identity theft, patient records, and patient privacy.
Many experts believe that this theft type is on the rise because it is proving to be the most profitable.
A stolen credit card account is only as good as the money it has available.
A stolen medical report and medical plan could be worth a lot more.
A hacked credit card account may pay for $3000 in medical procedures but if you steal someone’s identity and medical insurance plan, you could have access to tens of thousands of dollars worth of procedures and coverage.
What is the impact?
One study, done in association with MIFA, estimates that as many as two million Americans have been victimized by this crime.
The cost is around $12 billion in out-of-pocket expenses for just one year to try and resolve the theft, clear up their records, and get the medical treatments.
You will most likely realize you are the victim of identity theft fairly quickly, but in most cases you never know you have been a victim until you go in for medical treatments or for some life threatening emergency procedure.
Medical identity theft can sit and grow for years without you ever knowing.
And everyone is at risk, from the old to the young and the sick to the healthy.
Some people find that a thief has been using their medical identity for years, sometimes for decades.
That discovery can come as quite a shock to many people and it truly can mean the difference between life and death for some people.
Some people get the rude wake-up that their records have been corrupted by someone with a meth or other drug addiction or other major criminal medical issues.
Consequences of medical based identity theft and regular identity theft are far reaching and have a long lasting impact on the lives of those who are victimized by it.
It is important to guard your personal and medical information.
Make sure of what the policy and privacy rights are for your doctors, medical providers, and anyone else who handles your medical information.
Medical identity theft is a growing problem that affects thousands of people and costs millions of dollars each year.
Do not be a victim, guard your records closely, and monitor your information regularly.
Many people are finally becoming aware of the many types of identity theft scams that are out there.
Unfortunately, for some it comes too late as they have already been the victim of a fraud or scam that ended up losing their account information or having their identity stolen.
The simple question is what is identity theft and how can it be combated?
There are countless ID thieves out there but a startling trend is the number of theft rings that involved 3 or more people.
These ID theft rings can target thousands of individuals and puts their personal and financial information up for sale to the highest bidder.
ID Theft Rings Can be Massive
In Los Angles recently, a bust was made on ID theft and credit card scam ring in the Glendale area.
The bust resulted in seven arrests.
The size of the ring is one of the largest ever found in the area and the spread of damage they have caused could be massive.
“We literally could have thousands of victims here.That will result in, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, but millions of dollars in losses,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz, who is a member of the local Glendale Police Department.
They are still searching for at three other members who are suspected to be part of the scam ring.
Firearms, credit cards, cash, fake ID cards, card skimmers, and computer equipment were all found and then seized during the bust.
The sheer number of public civilians who may have fallen victim to this ring is staggering and serves as a reminder of the importance of identity theft protection.
What These Thieves Have Done
ID thieves can either sell your account numbers and personal information on the black market or they can use it themselves and assume your identity and use your money.
Such was the case in a ID theft case recently in the Chicago area.
According to the report in The Courier News, “After police arrested a man for using another man’s identity to purchase a car in June, he allegedly told police he’d been using the other man’s Social Security number and identity for the past 14 years to work.”
The sad and staggering truth of this is that the victim had no clue what was going on.
A simple check of his credit report and scores would have alerted him to some of the issues going on.
ID theft prevention must be at the forefront when it comes to protecting financial information and this is true for corporations that consumers trust with their financial and personal information.
One recent case brings this reality into all too clear of a focus.
It has come to be known as the biggest data-breaches in U.S. history and the goal was to steal and resell credit card numbers and access codes, and they were successful in grabbing an estimated 160 million credit card numbers from these corporation.
The impact this has had is truly alarming as seen in this quote from the ABC News Report.
“The companies named in the indictment are believed to have lost hundreds of millions of dollars because of this ring’s actions, with three companies incurring losses in excess of $300 million alone, according to the indictment.”
If you have been the victim of any sort of identity theft you have reason to believe you are a victim take action now.
Damage may have already been done but you can take steps to minimize its effect and reverse some of the damage if you act quickly!
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