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Resources > Cyberattacks > Understanding Medical Identity Theft—A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding Medical Identity Theft—A Comprehensive Guide

Medical identity theft is a growing concern in the healthcare industry all over the globe that goes far beyond the mere loss of data. This insidious and cruel crime has serious consequences that range from financial loss to compromised medical records, which could lead to misdiagnosis. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss what medical ID theft is, how it happens, what scope of impact it has, and how you can reduce the risk.

What Is Medical Identity Theft?

Medical identity theft happens when an impostor uses another person’s name, health insurance details, or other personal information, such as Social Security number (SSN), to receive medical services, obtain prescription drugs, or access healthcare benefits. Besides having serious consequences for the victim, this crime also hampers the functioning and credibility of healthcare providers.

How Does Medical Identity Theft Occur?

Criminals use a variety of techniques to access your data—sometimes, they buy stolen personally identifiable information (PII) or health insurance information from the dark web. In other cases, the thief uses information the victim unknowingly shared or was tricked into sharing.

Patient files are also often shared with third-party vendors across a number of systems and devices. If any of those third parties are breached or a healthcare system is subject to a security incident such as a ransomware attack, patient information can be compromised. Whatever the mechanism for medical identity theft, it may result in patient record errors that lead to misdiagnosis.

Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Your Insurance Card?

Yes, insurance card theft can open up the possibility of medical identity theft. The card usually bears crucial information, such as the policy number, that can be used to impersonate you and illegally obtain medical services. To reduce the risk of this happening, you should regularly monitor statements and immediately report if your card has been lost or stolen.

Signs of Medical Identity Theft

If you’ve received bills for medical services you didn’t get, it could indicate that your medical information has been stolen. Other signs include:

  • Receiving collection notices from medical providers you don’t recognize
  • Your health insurance claims being denied for unexpected reasons
  • Seeing unfamiliar procedures or diagnoses on your medical records
  • Being notified that your health insurance benefits have been maxed out

Consequences of Medical Identity Theft

The outcome of medical identity theft can be far-reaching and have a significant impact on both the victims and the healthcare system. Here are some of the key consequences:

Consequence of Medical Identity TheftDetails
Compromised medical recordsAn identity thief may receive medical care using your identity, resulting in wrong information on your medical records. An inaccurate medical history could lead to healthcare providers making errors in decisions or diagnoses
Financial lossesAs a medical ID theft victim, you may receive fraudulent medical bills for services you never used, which can cause financial stress. The fraudulent unpaid healthcare bills can go into collections, damaging your credit score and reputation
Insurance premium increasesMedical identity theft may result in your medical benefits being accessed without consent and maxed out, making them unavailable when you need them. False claims and tampered health records may cause premiums for insurance policies to skyrocket
Legal implicationsYou might face lawsuits for false medical claims or criminal activities done under your name. Resolving legal problems related to medical theft can be complicated and lengthy because of the legal processes involved in clearing your name and records
Identity and reputation damageMedical identity theft may strain personal relations, as someone may think you’ve concealed medical information or ailments. Employers can access the wrong medical details, which might even affect your chances of getting jobs and promotions
Emotional and psychological stressSorting out issues related to medical ID fraud and dealing with consequences and potential health problems may be emotionally draining and extremely stressful. Victims often feel violated and insecure knowing that someone has accessed their sensitive information for their own benefit

How To Prevent Medical Identity Theft

To protect your medical information from identity thieves, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Avoid sharing your medical information
  2. Shred medical documents you don’t need
  3. Monitor your insurance statements and medical bills
  4. Check your medical records
  5. Review your credit reports and scores

Avoid Sharing Your Medical Information

Recklessly giving out medical information like your billing statements, prescriptions, health insurance forms, and health insurance card can expose your private data to malicious people who may use it for fraudulent activities. Only give such sensitive medical information when necessary, e.g., during treatment and billing.

Shred Medical Documents You Don’t Need

Dumpster divers target trash, looking for sensitive information to steal identities. To protect yourself from this scenario, it’s important to shred any documents containing personal information like your SSN or insurance policy before throwing them out. You can consider getting your medical bills online to limit the amount of medical information you get via mail.

Monitor Your Insurance Statements and Medical Bills

Regularly check your insurance statements, medical bills, and explanation of benefits for errors or unknown charges. This can alert you to fraudulent activity, such as a thief using your insurance to obtain healthcare services. Contact your insurer and providers if you see any activity you don’t recognize.

Check Your Medical Records

Review your medical records at clinics, hospitals, and insurance companies once a year for any inaccuracies. Look for signs of fraud like unknown prescription charges or doctor visits. If you notice any discrepancies, report them to the relevant provider in writing to limit the damage.

Review Your Credit Reports and Scores

Consistently scrutinize your credit reports to spot any signs of medical debts in collections or other unusual activities. You should also keep a close watch on your credit profile and score for any unexpected fluctuations—if you encounter anything unusual, promptly alert the three major consumer reporting agencies:

  1. Experian
  2. Equifax
  3. TransUnion

How To Report Medical Identity Theft

If you suspect that your medical information has been compromised, follow these six steps to protect yourself from further damage:

  1. Contact your insurance company—Call your insurance provider and report that someone may have used your insurance benefits or personal information without your permission. They’ll flag your account and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity
  2. Contact the medical providers—Notify all doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other medical providers where you think your information may have been misused. Explain what happened and ask them to monitor your account
  3. Request your medical records—Get copies of your medical records from all providers to check for any services or procedures you didn’t undergo and dispute any inaccuracies
  4. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports—Contact one of the major credit bureaus and ask them to place an initial 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports. This makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name
  5. File a report with law enforcement—File a police report with your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to have official evidence of the identity theft
  6. Monitor your medical and insurance accounts—Regularly check your medical bills, insurance statements, and credit reports for any irregularities or suspicious activity. Contact providers immediately if you spot any issues

With these steps, you can work to resolve medical ID theft and protect yourself from further damage. For extra peace of mind that your and your family’s medical information is secure, consider signing up for identity protection services like FreeKick for ongoing monitoring.

FreeKick—Comprehensive Identity Monitoring and Credit Building (Coming Soon)

FreeKick, Powered by Austin Capital Bank (an FDIC-insured bank), offers identity protection for your whole family and credit building for children (aged 14–25).

FreeKick monitors, safeguards, and restores identities for up to two parents and six children aged 0 to 25.

Identity Protection Services

With alarming statistics indicating that a child’s identity is stolen every 30 seconds, it’s important to protect your identity no matter your age. FreeKick offers a comprehensive set of identity protection features for both minors and adults, including:

Services for Adult Children and ParentsServices for Minor Children
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Lost wallet protection
Court records monitoring
Change of address monitoring
Non-credit (Payday) loan monitoring
Free FICO® Score monthly
FICO® Score factors
Experian credit report monthly
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for children’s personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

Parent-Sponsored Credit Building and Credit Profile Monitoring

FreeKick helps your children build good credit from an early age, which can save them over $200,000 over their lifetime. The credit-building feature covers up to six children aged 14–25, ensuring that your young adults are stepping into their financial futures on stable ground. Once your child turns 14, you can activate the credit-building feature in your FreeKick account and start helping your child secure a stable financial future.

Once your child turns 18, they can activate credit reporting from the account dashboard. FreeKick will then report a $1,000 credit line to all three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. With responsible use of their FreeKick account, your child can build a strong credit profile from the very beginning of their independent financial life.

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Create an Account—Sign up for a FreeKick account and choose a plan by visiting FreeKick.bank
  2. Set It and Forget It—Upon signing up, FreeKick establishes a no-interest loan for your child to build a 12-month credit history
  3. Keep Growing—After the initial 12-month term, you can renew the account to further improve your child’s credit score over time

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick plans range in price to fit all budgets, and they all come with FDIC insurance up to $250,000. Check the table below for more details:

Deposit AmountAnnual Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)

To secure your whole family’s identities and safeguard them against medical ID theft while giving your children a solid financial headstart—sign up for FreeKick today.