Don’t get catfished

Manti Te’o, the promising football player from Notre Dame, was the apparent victim of a “Catfishing” hoax. A young man who was recently interviewed on The Dr. Phil Show claimed to have perpetrated the hoax. His reason, he told Dr. Phil, was that he was in love with Manti Te’o.
 
The expression, “catfishing,” comes from the 2010 documentary film by Nev Schulman called Catfish. It chronicled his own experience being deceived by an online relationship with a woman named “Megan.” She approached Schulman on the web, they began “chat,” and she sent him a painting. She tells him she is a young artist and even provides pictures showing her to be a pretty, blonde. When Schulman and his friends decide to visit Megan they discover she does not exist. She is the creation of a middle-aged woman with many problems who targets people for fantasy relationships.
 
According to Dr. Phil and other experts “catfishing” and other types of relationship fraud is on the rise. Catfish is now a popular MTV show starring Schulman. Often victims are emotionally devastated or even defrauded of large sums of money.
 
Learn to protect yourself from relationship fraud with these tips from Experian’s ProtectMyID identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution experts.
Stay mysterious at first. Don’t disclose personally identifiable information with a prospective dating match until there is an established level of familiarity and trust. This includes your hometown, home addresses, work specifics, phone numbers, educational background and information about children via profiles and through photo identification.
 
Limit profile detail. Avoid posting personally identifiable information on your online dating profiles, including but not limited to hometown, home addresses, work specifics, phone numbers, educational background and information about children via profiles and through photo identification.
 
Play detective. Don’t assume that a prospective dating match will always be truthful. Ask a person to tell you about himself or herself; you then can conduct a little background work on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Google to see if conflicting information exists. Also, be wary of any requests for financial loans or assistance of any kind.
 
Create the perfect password. For online dating profiles, do not use passwords that incorporate publicly known information.
 
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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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