Medical identity theft is a white-collar crime trend, says the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Thieves may use your name or insurance information to get medical treatment. Or, they might use it to buy prescription drugs or get reimbursed by insurance companies for services you never received. False entries on health care records mean you could end up being treated based on someone else’s medical history, says Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum.
Dixon’s group last week issued a report on this crime, estimating that it has ensnared 250,000 to 500,000 consumers so far. Often, the perpetrators are professional thieves selling pills or medical supplies online. Sometimes, it’s the doctor. A Massachusetts psychiatrist, for instance, filed false insurance claims for both patients and non-patients, saying they were being treated for drug addiction or depression. The chance of finding out about the theft is slim, and the discovery might not occur until long after the crime. Dixon advises asking your insurer each year for a list of benefits paid on your behalf; this helps uncover cases where a thief changes your billing address.