North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Medical ID Theft Can Be Life-Threatening

7/25/2014

By Attorney General Roy Cooper

Identity theft can be an expensive, exasperating experience for victims. And when it’s medical identity theft, it can also threaten your health.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses your name or your health insurance information to see a doctor, get a medical procedure or medication, file claims, or receive other medical goods or services.

In addition to the many problems associated with financial identity theft, medical identity theft adds another dangerous consequence: contamination of your personal medical records.

When someone receives health care services by pretending to be you, the thief’s test results and medical diagnoses can be added to your file. Having incorrect information mixed in with your medical files can put your health at risk, especially in an emergency.

Patients who discover that they’ve been victims of medical identity theft must work to get corrected information in their files.

What are the warnings signs of medical ID theft? You could be a victim if you:

  • Get a bill or other paperwork regarding a medical procedure or service that you didn’t receive.
  • Discover incorrect information in your medical records.
  • Are notified that you have “maxed out” your medical benefits when you haven’t.
  • Are contacted by a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe.
  • Discover collection notices or other indications of medical debt activity in your credit report.
  • Are denied insurance coverage because of incorrect information in your medical records.

Fortunately you can take steps to protect yourself against medical identity theft. Start by shredding outdated health insurance forms, prescription labels and paperwork, physician statements, and any other old documents that contain your medical information.

Be cautious about sharing your medical and insurance information. Identity thieves want this information, and they’ll masquerade as an insurance company employee, a pharmacist, or even your doctor’s office to try to get it. Don’t respond to pitches that ask you to share your health plan ID number or other confidential information in order to receive “free” medical services or products.

When you get medical bills and paperwork, read them carefully to make sure they match the care you really received. Check to see if the name of the doctor and the facility are correct and the dates of service match your records. If you see information that isn’t right, report it to your health plan.

To learn more about fighting identity theft and medical identity theft, visit www.ncdoj.gov or call 1-887-5-NO-SCAM (toll-free in NC).