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Posted on November 14, 2014 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

A few months back, we shared our apprehension that digitized medical records could lead to more medical ID thefts. At the time, we also shared some tips for protecting yourself (such as, get a copy of your medical records to ensure they’re accurate), and I think that now is the perfect time to bring you more need-to-know facts about medical identity theft.

For example, did you know that medical cyber attacks are on the rise? The percentage of cyber attacks rose from 20 percent in 2009 to 40 percent in 2013.

Meanwhile, there are currently no laws requiring criminal prosecution against thieves, so there is no  way to accurately calculate how much medical fraud costs the healthcare industry in the United States. It is suspected that it is driving up health insurance premiums in many parts of the country.

You might be wondering why thieves are so desperate for your information. Here are some of the reasons your medical records may more valuable than your credit card number:

  1. It’s easier. Hospitals have relatively low security (compared to banks and credit card company networks), so collecting personal information for a number of people is pretty simple with the right skills.
  2. Medical records contain more data than a bank account. Valuable data for thieves includes names, birth dates, insurance policy numbers, diagnosis codes, and billing information. With this data, fraudsters can choose to create fake IDs, purchase medical equipment or drugs, sell the information, or file a false insurance claim.
  3. It takes longer to uncover. Most people are not regularly checking their medical records, so the fraud may not be immediately recognized. Credit card theft, on the other hands, is easier to uncover, and the compromised accounts can be cancelled. Medical identity theft is more complicated.
  4. It’s worth more. Stolen health credentials are worth about $10 a pop. That’s 10 to 20 times more valuable than credit card numbers.

Now that you know how valuable your medical records are, you are likely wondering how to protect yourself. First, monitor where and when you provide your personal medical information. Always ask if the information is absolutely necessary before providing it. In addition, be sure to check out these red flags that may indicate your information has been compromised.

Medical identity theft is just one of the routes hackers can take to gather your personal data. Protecting yourself in this day-and-age is paramount. As we’ve discussed before, monitoring your medical records and credit report are easy ways to protect yourself. But did you know that IdentityForce is the only identity theft protection company that monitors your health insurance subscriber number, helps you keep track of your medical insurance claims, and provides medical id theft coverage under their master insurance policy?

Interested in learning more about how you can work with the IdentityForce team to protect yourself from the damages of medical identity theft? Visit our services section today or call us toll-free with your questions at 1-877-694-3367.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Phalinn Ooi.