Medical identity theft is a big and scary term. And many think that it won’t affect them personally. But in reality, millions of adults in the US have already been a victim of medical identity theft. And anyone could be the next target. In our age of digital information, it’s especially important to make sure your personal info is secure. The consequences of a data breach may be devastating.
The aftermath of a party using your medical identity can vary from hefty financial losses all the way to corrupted medical records leading to a misdiagnosis and/or mistreatment. And while money is a temporary resource, facing potentially life-threatening medical mistakes due to other person’s records being mixed with your own is very serious. Here is how you can protect yourself from it.
Control the Information
Everyone is familiar with the concept of sensitive information. Something you’re constantly told to “never share with anyone”. Things like passwords, social security numbers, health insurance info. Anything personal, really. Well, there are certain situations where you are required to share it regardless. Understanding when it’s safe to share personal info is key.
One of the most common ways the information is leaked is through phones, e-mails, and other means of distant communication. You’ll get a call or a letter from a representative of some company asking you for some of your personal details for one reason or another. In this case, you need to do your best to correctly assess the situation and decide whether you should actually comply.
First of all, verify if they are actually who they say they are. Be especially wary if you weren’t the one to initiate the dialogue. Ask them what they need the information for. Don’t be shy to ask a lot of questions. If they really deal with sensitive information, they should understand your concerns about personal safety.
Posting your medical information online or disposing of it carelessly is also a bad idea.
If there is absolutely no way of sidestepping some sort of online form, make sure the connection you’re using is secure. Check the site’s address. It should begin with https:// where ‘s’ at the end means secure. Take this online service website, for example, https://essaypro.com/. Alternatively, look for an icon of a lock, usually sitting right before the website’s address.
Another useful thing to do to protect yourself against identity fraud is to keep a personal track of your medical records. Having a copy safely stashed away with the details of all your medical visits can help you out in case you need to spot discrepancies in your files. Getting a copy from your doctor shouldn’t be a problem since the federal law protects your right to know what’s in your medical records.
Another dead giveaway that something is not quite right is suspicious entries in your EOB and credit report. The EOB stands for the explanation of benefits. It’s a document with an explanation of the services you received and what your insurance covered. It should be handed to you every time you pay using your insurance.
Checking your EOB against your own notes is a sure way to find if someone’s been using your identity to pay with your insurance. Dates, services, and names of doctors you’ve been seeing should all be correct and in order. Otherwise, you might want to clear it with your health insurer.
Watching the expenses on your credit card is one of the more common and widespread habits. And it’s a very useful one as it can protect you from all kinds of financial fraud, including medical identity theft. Accounts you didn’t open popping up or debt collections out of nowhere are red flags that you should act upon immediately. Freezing the accounts and filing a report to the police should be your first steps.
How are hospitals preventing medical identity theft?
One of the most effective ways to prevent medical identity theft is by locking patient medical records – that’s exactly what RightPatient does. It is a biometric patient identification system that locks patient records with their biometric data. During enrollment, the platform takes a photo of the patient as well as scans of their biometrics (irises) and attaches it to the medical record. This ensures that a bad actor cannot come and assume the identity of the patient – if anyone tries to do so, RightPatient will flag the person and prevent medical identity theft in the process.
Medical files contain a lot of sensitive information. Taking a few extra precautions seems like a given. And yet, many people ignore the basic safety measures in favor of convenience. The truth is if you keep your data secure, you’ll never even feel the effect of it. But you’ll definitely notice the consequences of failing to protect yourself. Hence, it’s way more efficient to spend some time on preventive measures.
Following some basic rules will help you effectively protect yourself from identity theft:
- Never share your personal info with people you don’t know;
- Make sure you have copies of your medical records;
- Make sure you have copies of your financial transactions;
- Keep your eyes open for discrepancies.
These rules are not hard to follow at all. But putting an effort to maintain those consistently, you are potentially sparing yourself a headache.