How does medical identity theft occur?
What to look out for to make sure it doesn’t happen to you
See how thieves can steal your identity through scams and hacking related to the medical industry.
Medical products and services are essential in life—after all, no one’s invincible. Many of us enjoy access to certain medical benefits due to us as a matter of course. However, some people feel entitled to enjoy such benefits by claiming to be someone they’re not. This is called medical identity theft.
Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses identifying information or data other than their own to receive medical services or purchase medical products illegally. The private information identity thieves could use include your:
- Social Security number
- Health insurance number
- Medicare number
- Other personally identifiable information
The medical benefits the perpetrator could be after include:
- Seeing a doctor
- Obtaining prescription drugs
- Purchasing medical devices
- Filing claims with the identity theft victim’s insurance provider
- Fraudulently billing government programs for medical goods and services
- Getting any other type of medical care
Now that you know what medical identity theft is, let’s consider the various ways it can occur.
How medical identity theft occurs
Medical identity theft involves the use of your personally identifiable information. When thieves get hold of such information, they generally either use it themselves or sell it on the dark web for other thieves to take advantage of.
So how do they access your personally identifiable information?
1. Loss of your personal information
One way thieves can come across your information is if you accidentally misplace any personal belongings that contain such personal information, like if your wallet is lost or stolen. If this happens, the perpetrators can then use any personal information you’ve stored in the missing item—such as your name, SSN, and even your health insurance card—against you.
2. Data breaches
Another way medical identity theft occurs is through data breaches. Medical and health insurance providers have become hackers’ favorite stomping ground in recent years. Compromising these organizations’ data security gives the hackers access to their customers’ personal information, which the criminals can use for their own malicious purposes.
3. Hacked devices
Tech-savvy thieves can also hack your devices. They can launch malware, giving them access to your computer and mobile phone, which almost always contain your personal details to some degree.
4. Phishing messages
Phishing calls, texts, and emails can show up on your device requesting your personal details. If you fall for it and provide the requested details, you’ve just given them the information they need to steal your medical identity. Never click a link from any source, even trusted contacts, unless you’re 100% sure where it leads to.
5. Fake websites
Criminals can obtain personal details via fake websites. They model dummy websites after the authentic ones to make it harder to catch the subterfuge, tricking unsuspecting web visitors into providing their details under the presumption that the site is legitimate.
6. Private data leaks by medical employees
The scary truth is that a disgruntled employee of the medical organization or health care insurance provider you trust could join forces with the perpetrators to commit medical identity theft. In this situation, the employee could simply take advantage of their unfettered access to customers’ personal details and hand them over to the perpetrators.
7. Loss of the organization’s hardware
If the medical organization’s computers or flash drives happen to fall into the wrong hands, whether through theft or plain inattention, the customers’ data will be available to whomever picks it up.
Clearly, there’s a number of ways you could fall victim to medical identity theft, which, as you can imagine, exposes you to a lot of risks. Identity thieves are increasingly relentless in their criminal acts both online and off. To better prepare and protect yourself, read our post discussing how to protect your privacy and identity online.
If you’ve been a victim of medical identity theft, don’t despair! We can help you. Contact us today.
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