Understanding the Dangers of Medical Identity Theft
Identity theft is a worldwide phenomenon with very personal results to those who’ve been victimized by con artists and thieves. With our support, our loved ones need to be ever vigilant in guarding their personal, financial and medical identities.
A loved one’s medical identity could be a target of thieves who wish to capitalize on their insurance and/or benefits. How does that work? It works the same way that a con man phishes for information in e-mails, or that fraudulent lawyers use to look for information when helping a scam victim recover sweepstakes money when they have never participated in a sweepstakes. Thieves get a hold of our social security information and our insurance information and use it for their own purposes.
This can be worse than simple financial identity theft. Every time a thief uses our medical identity, some of their information mixes with ours. If our loved one’s medical identity is compromised and the thief gets medical treatment while pretending to be them, those records may be tainted with information about the thief’s blood type, a drug showing up in their system or a malady that our loved one doesn’t have. All of these incorrect findings could be attributed to our loved one. This can lead to them receiving incorrect treatment, and could result in our loved one being injured or becoming sick.
Thieves can also use our loved one’s information to get prescription drugs. If our loved one’s medical information mixes with that of the thief, our insurance and credit will take a hit. We should take a close look at our loved one’s medical records. Have they received bills for medical services they did not receive? Have they been denied coverage for a condition they don’t even have?
Vigilance is key, just as it is when we guard our loved one’s financial identity. We should take the time to review Medicare Summary Notices and Explanations of Benefits for inaccurate charges. If we find them, we can request that they be removed. We should also document all of our loved one’s visits to the physician.
We also should not give our loved one’s information to ANYONE but Medicare approved physicians and health care providers. If you need assistance in spotting predatory suppliers or providers that aren’t approved, you can contact Senior Medicare Patrol online, or call 1-800 MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.