What is medical identity theft and how can I prevent it?

While you may be aware of financial identity theft, where someone uses your personal information to open new credit accounts and quickly runs up unpaid balances, you may not be aware of medical identity theft, a growing problem which can have a negative effect on people in Tennessee.

According to Consumer Reports, incidences of medical identity theft grew 22 percent between 2013 and 2014, with over 2 million cases being reported. Thieves find your medical identity valuable because they can use it to obtain benefits, gain access to prescription drugs and file false insurance claims. Plus, if the thief uses your identity to obtain medical care, their information and doctor visits become a part of your medical record.

Because many people are not aware that this type of fraud, they may not close guard their medical information as tightly as they do their financial information. While the Fair Credit Billing Act provides your finances with some level of protection, there is no such thing when it comes to your medical identity. Medical bills incurred by someone else can quickly rack up balances in your name. If you are not aware of these debts and take no action to have them removed, they can end up on your credit report and your credit rating can take a dive.

There are, however, some steps you can take to prevent someone from obtaining your medical information and using it fraudulently. For starters, it is a good idea to keep any medical information off of social media. In addition, only provide your personal information, including your social security number, to people who need for a legitimate reason. Keep accurate records of all bills and information you receive from medical providers and insurance companies. Finally, monitor your credit report for any unauthorized activity. This is provided as general information on this topic and is not intended to be legal advice.

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