Friday, September 4, 2009

Medical Identity Theft is on the Rise

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), medical identity theft is on the rise as health insurance fraud becomes more common. NetworkWorld reports that, according to an ITRC study of 2008 identity theft victims, 67 percent had been charged for medical procedures they hadn't received and 11 percent were denied health or life insurance for unexplained reasons--possibly because of incorrect information resulting from fraudulent insurance claims. The NetworkWorld article includes a summary of the worst medical data breach incidents from 2009, including: Virginia Department of Health Professions hack (8 million+); Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates robbery (100K) and Moore's Cancer Center hack (30K).Full Story

Most companies hold personal medical information on their staff for purposes of health insurance, incident reports, cafeteria plans, and so forth. It was only about two years ago that there was a general concensus among professionals that medical identity theft was largely overstated despite warnings that it was largely underreported. Medical identity theft is by far the most difficult type of the crime due to far reaching implications. When medical information is used a lot of databases are automatically updated from insurance claim databases such as MIB, to hospital and doctor records. Blood types and allergy histories can be incorrect in records. When medical procedures are performed this can also effect credit worthiness if bills go unpaid, suits are filed by creditors, criminal files can be opened, in short the misuse of medical information can result in the corruption of dozens of types of records.

What we see in medical database breaches such as the ones above is only part of the puzzle.
Everyone needs to consider the restoration of medical records and legal representation when evaluating identity theft services.