Medical identity theft statistics show that the crime of medical identity theft is on the rise. Medical identity theft is a unique form of identity theft, in which people impersonate another person when receiving medical care.
Because so few of us regularly check our full medical records, this type of crime can go undetected for years, even if you’re regularly checking your credit reports and financial statements.
Medical identity theft is dangerous. Beyond the risk of having unpaid medical bills reported to the credit bureaus, an individual impersonating you can confuse your medical records. If you do need critical care, it might appear that you have allergies, conditions, or medication histories that aren’t really yours but those of the criminal impersonator.
The 10 Medical Identity Theft Statistics You Need to Know
Why does medical identity theft occur? In many cases, it’s because the identity thief does not want to pay a medical bill, but there could be other causes. Incidents have been reported where identity thieves assume another’s identity to avoid being caught for a crime that causes a doctor or hospital visit, such as gunshot wounds or even deliveries of babies born addicted to illegal substances.
If you want to keep your medical records clean and avoid being mixed up in crimes that have nothing to do with you, read these statistics on medical identity theft to learn how, when, and where these crimes occur to learn how to protect yourself.
- 57% of individuals surveyed by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud reported that they never check their medical records to verify their accuracy, and about half of these individuals don’t know how to check their records. To check your medical records, contact your physician’s office; you have the right to review them for free, although obtaining copies may incur a charge.
- According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, half of all victims of medical identity theft know the individual responsible. Don’t be a victim of someone you know – keep your confidential information confidential, and locked out of sight of others.
- Research by the Ponemon Institute indicates that the average cost per incident of medical identity theft is $20,663. Annually reviewing your medical records and checking your credit history regularly will help you pinpoint bills such as these and pinpoint medical identity theft before the issue escalates.
- The World Privacy Forum reports that medical identity theft incidents are highly correlated with certain areas of the country. Central and South Florida are by far the worst hit areas, followed by the Chicago-Madison-Indianapolis corridor, San Antonio, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona. If you live in any of these areas, be extra diligent about protecting and tracking your medical history.
- Approximately 250,000 individuals are victims of medical identity theft every year, or about 3% of all identity theft cases tracked by the Federal Trade Commission. This medical identity theft statistic means that no one can afford to ignore the possibility that medical identity theft might happen to them.
- According to some of the latest full year data available compiled by Javelin Strategy & Research, medical identity theft may be increasing at a pace as high as 100% per year.
- The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society indicates that healthcare insiders, those who have access to patient information, are the most common cause of identity theft in hospitals, and this is on an upward trend. These individuals use or sell patient information for personal gain, making it more important than ever for patients to track their own personal information.
- Bill inflation is another form of identity theft reported to be on the rise by Shred-it. This fraud occurs mainly with Medicare and Medicaid recipients; higher cost services or even services that were not rendered are billed to these government run programs under the patient’s I.D. Be sure to check all medical bills, even if you only had to pay a co-pay, for accuracy.
- Stolen or lost laptops are also a trending cause of medical identity theft, thanks to the ever-increasing portability of technology. Many victims find out about lost information through the news first, so pay attention if any company that does business with you reports a data breach.
- 80% of organizations responsible for keeping medical records have reported one or more data breaches that resulted in the loss of individuals’ healthcare records according to Experian. Organizations should be alerting you of any data breach that happens on their watch. If you are contacted, ask if the organization what identity protection services they will cover due to their negligence.
Although past due medical bills are not reported to credit bureaus as quickly as other types of bills, any unpaid bill may be reported, and will damage your credit until you are able to resolve the issue. Services such as LifeLock Ultimate can help alert you to any negative reports such as these as soon as they occur, making this another tool you can use against medical identity theft. Read more about the LifeLock Ultimate service in this review, and be sure to check your medical records at the next opportunity in light of these medical identity theft statistics.