Personal data has become a valuable commodity, especially in the healthcare industry. While most of us are vigilant about protecting our financial information, we often overlook the security of our medical records. Medical identity theft is a serious concern that can have devastating consequences for individuals and the healthcare system. In 2022 alone, 707 healthcare data breaches affected around 52 million patients. So, how can medical identity theft occur?
Don’t wait until you’re a victim – arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to protect your health data. Explore what medical identity theft is, how it can occur, and most importantly, how you can prevent it.
What is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses another person’s identity or personal information to obtain medical services, prescription medications, or other healthcare benefits. This crime can have a profound impact on both the victim and the healthcare system.
How Medical Identity Theft Occurs
- Stolen Insurance Information: Thieves may gain access to your insurance card, social security number, or other personal data, allowing them to use your identity to receive costly medical treatments. This not only drives up healthcare costs but can lead to denied claims for legitimate patients.
- Insider Theft: In some cases, the crime happens within healthcare facilities. Disgruntled employees or unethical healthcare workers may misuse patient data for personal gain or sell it to criminals.
- Pharmacy Fraud: Individuals may forge prescriptions or create fake identities to obtain prescription drugs. This can lead to dangerous substances falling into the wrong hands and can tarnish a person’s medical history with inaccurate information.
- Data Breaches: Cyberattacks on healthcare providers can result in the theft of sensitive medical records. Criminals may sell this data on the dark web, which can then be used for various illegal activities, including medical identity theft.
Best Practices for Preventing Medical Identity Theft
Now that you understand how medical identity theft occurs, it’s time to take the steps to protect yourself and your health data:
- Guard Your Personal Information: Keep insurance cards and other sensitive documents in a secure place. Encrypt digital medical documents with a secure document management system. You can enable access controls as well to protect from inside threats.
- Be Wary of Unsolicited Calls and Emails: Scammers often pose as healthcare providers or insurance companies. If you receive an unexpected call or email requesting your personal information, verify the source before providing any details.
- Regularly Review Your Medical Records: Request and review your medical records annually, at the least, to ensure that all the information is accurate. Report any discrepancies to your healthcare provider.
- Use Strong Passwords: If you have access to online health portals, create strong, unique passwords. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.
- Secure Your Devices: Ensure that your mobile devices and computers are protected with up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software. Avoid sharing sensitive medical information or paying medical bills over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
- Dispose of Medical Documents Securely With Shredding: Shred old medical records, insurance statements, and prescription labels to prevent dumpster divers from accessing your personal data. Mobile, off-site, and Ship N Shred are all great options to ensure your medical records have been completely destroyed. You will receive a certificate of destruction detailing the process and that it complies with state and federal regulations.
- Monitor Your Insurance Statements: Regularly review your insurance statements to check for any unfamiliar charges or services. If you notice discrepancies, report them immediately.
- Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest scams and techniques used by identity thieves. Knowledge is your best defense against medical identity theft.
Prevent Medical Identity Theft With Shred Nations Today
Medical identity theft is a growing concern, but you can take proactive steps to protect your health data. By implementing the preventive measures mentioned above and staying vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to this crime.
Start protecting your health data today. Give Shred Nations a call at (800) 747-3365, fill out our form, or use the live chat to connect with a secure service provider today. They can help you shred any old medical records or set you up with a document management system to protect your current ones.