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Medical Identity Theft Crimes Growing

By Faye Mergel
Published: Friday, October 1st, 2010

50Medical identity theft are just as bad as regular identity theft crimes, but their effects are far more reaching and their damages could get more serious. Another problem with this type of identity theft crime is that it is becoming more common, and it is on the rise these past few months.

An expert of identity theft prevention, Mari Frank, made a statement that medical identity theft crimes are becoming more common. This is further confirmed by a report conducted by the Orange County Register that shows that medical identity theft crimes are indeed growing across not only in the Golden State but also elsewhere in the country.

Frank added that identity thieves are aware that people nowadays are paying little attention to their medical insurance and are taking advantage of the situation. She also noted that a study had recently found that over 1.25 million American consumers have been victimized by medical identity theft just last year, while many of them were also financial identity theft victims.

Medical identity theft would not just cost consumers their money, of which consumers might not notice that fraudsters have been using their medical information until the fraudulent bills are sent to the credit collection agencies. This crime could also affect health insurance and even the consumer’s medical information in more ways than one.

When a fraudster uses someone else’s medical information when being treated, then the problems would show up in the latter’s records. The victim could have medical information, such as blood type and allergies, in their records that should not even be theirs. And that would prove to be harmful when the actual owner gets sick or injured, and that fake information be used to treat the victim.

Another problem that medical identity theft poses is that it could be harder to track down and assess most especially since medical records are decentralized. The diagnoses and treatments made for the fraudster would already be transmitted through the insurance– and medical–related networks before the victim could even be notified. And to top it all off, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act features some provisions that make disputing medical records for other people more difficult, even when they use someone else’s name to get medical treatment.

Frank also added that despite medical identity theft crimes are getting more commonplace, there are no solid statistics that show how these crimes are committed. This is because only 10% of the victims have ever been able to find how the crime had happened. These past few months, however, security breaches in insurance companies and large hospitals have started to affect consumers. One of the most recent issues includes the compromise of the medical information of over 500, 000 people by a major health insurer in Connecticut.

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