Identity theft at the doctor’s office!

Did you know you could have your identity stolen at the doctor’s office? It’s a scary thought. But according to study by the Ponemon Institute sponsored by ProtectMyID, “Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States have been victims of the crime…
 
“Medical identity theft is difficult to detect and resolve, and the typical victim, according to the study, faces approximately $20,000 in fraudulent insurance bills,” the company warned.
 
There can be medical consequences, too. “Victims deal with more than just financial troubles… Medical identity theft frequently results in erroneous information being added to a person's medical record or even the creation of an entirely fictitious medical record in the victim's name.”
 
The experts at ProtectMyID caution, “When the victim seeks care, he or she could end up with the wrong medical history, wrong blood type, wrong allergies and other false information that could lead to serious problems. Victims may also find that their health insurance benefits have been exhausted due to a long period of misuse.”
 
All that is enough to give you a heart attack!
 
Here are tips to help you protect yourself and be alert to problems:
 
What signs indicate medical identity theft?
 
·        Be suspicious if you receive a bill for medical services from a hospital or physician you've never visited. These bills may be in someone else's name.
 
·        A collection agency calls or sends a letter regarding overdue payment on a medical account that does not belong to you.
 
·        Your insurer sends a letter confirming a change of address when you did not request one.
 
·        Medical insurance is denied because an imposter used your benefits.
 
·        You receive notification from a hospital or doctor when a criminal has broken into their computer and stolen patient identities.
 
For proactive protection, ProtectMyID recommends consumers take the following steps:
 
·        Request a copy of your prescription or medical claims history by calling your appropriate insurance provider.
 
·        Review your claims history for inaccurate information, such as hospitals or doctors you've never visited or prescriptions you've never filled.
 
·        If you find false information, contact your provider at once.
 
·        Review all bills and notices, such as an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) you receive regarding medical services.
 
·        If a criminal has used your benefits with his or her name, these bills or notices may list someone else's name with your address.
 
·        Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, will send you an Explanation of Benefits after each service received.
 
·        Make sure you are the one who received the services listed.
 
·        Request an accounting of disclosures of protected health information from your providers, such as hospitals and doctors. This will help you know with which organizations or other providers your doctors have shared your personal information and medical records.
 
·        If you're unsure why your information was shared with another organization, be sure to question the disclosure.
 
DolceDolce tip:
Refuse to give your Social Security or Social Insurance number to insurance companies or the doctor’s office. They ask. I refuse. They can take my driver’s license; it is official and has a photo. The fewer people who have access to these numbers and your confidential information, the better it is for your personal security.
 
Be proactive! Review all insurance claims, bills, and accounts regularly.
 
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