Your Health and Your Finances are at Risk

Did you know that the medical/healthcare sector experienced a 34-percent increase in data breaches over the past year?1 According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if fraudsters get a hold of your health insurance information, they could seek medical attention, get prescription drugs, file insurance claims, and more.2 How can medical identity theft affect you? […]
By Kelly Boies

Did you know that the medical/healthcare sector experienced a 34-percent increase in data breaches over the past year?1

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if fraudsters get a hold of your health insurance information, they could seek medical attention, get prescription drugs, file insurance claims, and more.2

How can medical identity theft affect you?

When your personal information has been stolen, and your health information has been tampered with, the results can be dangerous, both financially and physically.  If a fraudster uses your information to receive serious or numerous medical services, you could be faced with paying the bill(s), AND you now have someone else’s health information on your record, which could lead to inaccurate treatment for your own medical matters.

Recovering from medical identity theft can be just as costly.  65% of victims paid “an average of $13,500” and spent over 200 hours resolving the issue.3

How do you know if you’re a victim?

A few clues (among others) that could point to fraudulent activity would be…

  • Bills for treatments you didn’t receive
  • Information in your insurance statements about claims you didn’t file
  • Collection notices for medical debts that you don’t owe

For example, say you get denied for a loan because of poor credit, so you check your credit score, which is much lower than you expected.  Consequently, you request your credit reports, which show collection notices for medical debt that you don’t recognize.  This could mean a fraudster got a hold of your information and is using it for his or her own gain.

How can you protect yourself?

Be on the lookout for suspicious activity and get proactive with how you handle your personal information.  Here’s how you can get started:

  • Periodically review your insurance and medical statements, as well as your credit reports, for suspicious activity
  • Don’t share insurance information – whether medical or otherwise – over the phone or via email unless you know the recipient is trustworthy and you initiated contact
  • Keep documents with current personal information in a safe place and shred old documents before throwing them away – even prescription labels

Is it enough?

The fact of the matter is that medical identity theft isn’t the only kind of threat against your personal information.  Data breaches happen in all different sectors (e.g. health, business, government, education, et cetera), and fraudsters will use your personal information for more than just the benefit of medical insurance.  They could establish lines of credit, empty your bank accounts, access your Social Security benefits, sell your information to other fraudsters, and more.

So, what do you do?

Guard yourself against all kinds of identity theft and fraudulent activity by using a top-of-the-line identity theft protection program.

Look for a plan that takes a holistic approach to identity theft protection, covering every part of prevention and restoration – a plan that addresses fraud in a timely matter in order to prevent heightened stress, with features like the following:

  • Monitoring of personal information, credit score/reports, high risk transactions, etc.
  • Real-time alerts for suspicious activity
  • Quick assistance for anyone who becomes a victim
  • Financial counseling
  • Legal assistance

Talk to your Money Coach about the identity theft protection services available to you, like 24/7 identity monitoring and access to Fraud Resolution Specialists.

Protect your health.  Protect your finances.  Protect your life.  Call 888-724-2326 to get started.

1“ITRC Breach List Update & Highlights.”  Identity Theft Resource Center.  ITRC, 12 Apr. 2016.  Web.  15 Apr. 2016.

2“Medical Identity Theft.”  consumer.ftc.gov.  FTC, n.d.  Web.  19 Apr. 2016.

3Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft.  Ponemon Institute LLC, Feb. 2015.  Web.  19 Apr. 2016.  PDF.

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