High-profile data breaches are making headlines, and affected consumers are no-doubt on high alert when it comes to their credit, banking, and brokerage accounts—but have you thought about the relation between identity theft and medical care?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, medical identity theft occurs when a thief uses “your name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with your insurance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s information is mixed with yours, your treatment, insurance and payment records, and credit report may be affected.”
If you were affected by a data breach, pay close attention to doctor bills, health insurance Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements and Health Savings Account (HSA) information. Keep an eye out for things such as:
- Getting a bill or EOB for medical services you didn’t receive.
- Being contacted by a debt collection service about medical debt you were not aware of.
While the financial fallout from identity theft can usually be resolved, any fraudulent changes to your medical records can be difficult to correct, so it’s important to catch the fraud early.
If you do find yourself a victim of medical identity theft, remember you have certain rights when dealing with medical providers, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.:
- You have the right to request copies of your medical and billing records—this will help you identify the impact of the fraud and allow you to review your information for accuracy.
- If you find inaccuracies in your records, you have the right to have the medical provider correct the information. If the provider shared the inaccurate information with other providers, such as labs or pharmacies, the provider must also notify those entities of the correction.
Finally, whether you’re the victim of identity theft or not, it is a good idea to regularly review your credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only official, non-commercial service endorsed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
to provide these free credit reports. Federal law allows you to get a copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.