You take steps to protect your identity from credit fraud, but did you know you should also be concerned with medical identity theft? Both the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Federal Trade Commission warn that medical identify theft is a growing problem.
Here is a guide to what medical identify theft is, what to watch out for and what you can do about it.
What is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identify theft is when someone fraudulently uses your name or other identifying information to receive medical care or medicine. The damage this can do to you is three-fold.
1) You may be billed for medical care that you did not receive.
2) Your medical history may reflect illnesses that you have never had and the use of medicines that you have never used, which could potentially lead to a denial of health coverage.
3) False medical information on your record caused by medical identify theft can lead to mistakes in emergency care. For example, your medical record may say that you are different blood type than you really are, or have allergies that you don’t have.
What to Watch Out For?
To detect medical identity theft, you should always look over all of your medical bills and health insurance coverage statements to make sure there is nothing on them that shouldn’t be. Other things to watch out for that may be signs of medical identity theft, include:
- Receiving medical bills for services you did not receive
- Getting calls from debt collectors regarding medical services you did not receive
- Receiving a letter from your health insurance company saying you have reached your benefit limit (if you haven’t undergone a lot of medical care)
- Receiving a denial letter in the mail from your health insurance company, caused by a medical issue you do not have
What Can You Do About Medical Identify Theft?
If you are a victim of medical identity theft, fight back. Here are the steps to take to correct your medical record and get rid of fraudulent medical bills:
- Contact each of your medical care providers and ask for a copy of your health records. If you find anything that is not accurate, demand in writing that they make corrections.
- Ask your medical care providers and health insurance company for a complete accounting of medical services you have been billed for. Review the accounting records carefully and demand in writing that fraudulent charges be removed.
- Get a copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus and look them over for fraudulent medical charges. Dispute any fraudulent medical charges in writing, and consider placing a security freeze on your credit reports to help prevent future medical identity fraud.
Medical identity theft is no fun, and fighting it is even less fun, but it is important that you stay on top of your medical care information to make sure it is accurate, not only for the sake of your wallet, but for the sake of your own health, too.