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Medical Identity Theft Part 1

Medical identiy theft occurs when someone uses another person's name or other identifying information without the person's knowledge or consent to obtain medical services. Medical identity theft frequently results in erroneous entries being added into existing medical records.

As the US health care system continues to transistion from paper files to electronic ones, medical identity theft is becoming easier to commit. And the false medical information is transmitted faster and to a wider audience as companies share information. Victims often find it difficult if not impossible to correct the false information once this crime is commited.

Next week, the dangers of medical identity theft.

Wells Fargo warns of possible data theft

Wells Fargo, the second-largest U.S. mortgage lender, Friday said a computer containing confidential data about mortgage customers and prospective customers is missing and may have been stolen.

The missing data include names, addresses, Social Security numbers and mortgage loan deposit numbers. Wells Fargo said there is no indication that anyone has misused the data, or accessed the data without authorization.

Scam takes identity theft to new level

As executor of his parents' estate, Steve Israel had the only checkbook to the Israel Family Partnership Account with the Merrill Lynch office here. Only he could write checks on the account, which his parents, opened in 1998, six years before their deaths in late 2004. Steve Israel received an e-mail in January from an accountant working on the account's taxes. The accountant wondered about a multitude of transactions -- totaling $26,345 -- on the Merrill Lynch account statement.

Israel surmises that the thieves may have gotten a legitimate Merrill Lynch check on the account. The thieves printed phony checks with the account and routing numbers but didn't put Merrill Lynch's name at the top. Sixteen phony checks were written -- all unsigned, but with the words "verbally authorized by your depositor" -- and sent to businesses the thieves owed money. Those companies sent the checks to Merrill Lynch and received payment.

The perpetrators also worked another approach. Instead of using checks, they contacted Sprint, Nextel or one of the other companies they owed. They gave Israel's Merrill Lynch account and routing numbers.

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