Adam Kennedy – [cc id=’csid’] Restoration Supervisor; Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist
Medical Identity Theft is a hot topic in the ID theft industry due to the severity of the consequences involved in this type of fraud. For that reason, I have been writing this series to inform you of how medical identity theft occurs and how medical information can be used fraudulently. This final part of the series will walk you through some steps to prevent medical identity theft.
What Preventative measures can I take to avoid Medical Identity Theft?
- Check your explanation of benefits: This is the number one way to catch the identity theft before it damages your credit and insurance. You should request a copy every month from your insurer. Be sure they include the doctors you have actually seen and the treatments you have actually received. If you don’t recognize something on the bill, call your insurer immediately.
- Get an annual statement: You can request from your insurer an annual statement listing all benefits paid out under your policy for the past year. Some insurers give you access to this information online. Check it often for any irregularities. The sooner you catch a medical identity thief, the better it will be for you. You’ll also have less of a mess to clean up.
- Trust your instincts: If you think you might be a victim of medical ID fraud, get a copy of your records from your doctor, hospital, pharmacy and laboratory so you’ll have the proof you need about your actual medical identity and can use it to prove the fraud. You must clean up those fraudulent records to be sure you aren’t treated inappropriately, especially in an emergency situation where information about the medical thief may be used to treat you with the wrong blood or drugs.
- Check your credit reports: Always check your credit reports every 3 months to ensure the accuracy of your information with the three major credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You are entitled to one free copy a year from each of the three bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. I recommend you order from one bureau about every 4 months; for example: in January order Experian, in May order Trans-Union, and in September order Equifax. Look for billings from medical doctors, clinics or other medical facilities that you did not use. Report the fraud to the credit reporting agencies and ask that a fraud alert be put on your credit file.
- Correct your information: Any false medical reports should be corrected as soon as possible. Check with your physician, local hospitals, medical labs and any other medical facility you frequent to be sure they don’t have any inaccurate information.
The main concern for the future of medical insurance theft is the lack of security in place for victims of fraud. Unlike Credit bureaus and the IRS, the medical insurance companies do not have fraud alerts or security flags that can be placed on the account once Identity theft has occurred. Knowing there is no repercussions (as getting caught hardly ever occurs); identity thieves are able to collect claim after claim and can do so for several years without being acknowledged. With no protection in place it is up to each of us to safeguard our own identities. By checking your medical records regularly and joining the right credit monitoring protection you can avoid the hardships identity theft can have on your credit, career, and life.