Keeping our money and personal information safe from hackers is an ever-present, and ever-expanding, problem.
Most big retailers and financial institutions are fighting back and making it more difficult for hackers to get our personal and credit info. That’s great, but unfortunately the hackers are just moving to an easier target—our medical identities.
Medical data breaches are expected to be a big problem in 2016.
Medical information is in shorter supply, so hackers can sell it for more. Plus, most people now know to keep an eye on their credit and bank statements for signs of fraud. However, few people keep an eye on their medical insurance, which means that hackers can get more use out of your information before they’re discovered.
Medical identity theft is when a person uses your health insurance to obtain medical care. Not only can you be responsible for any charges, but another person’s health information—diagnoses, medications, allergies, surgeries, etc.—can get into your chart and seriously mess up your future health care.
I’ve posted about this problem before, and am re-posting these tips to protect yourself from medical identity fraud.
Seven steps to protect yourself
- Review your Explanation of Benefits (EOBs). Ensure the doctors listed and services provided are accurate. If you find an incorrect item, even if no money is owed, contact your insurance company immediately.
- Obtain your “benefits request” annually. Your insurance provider can provide a list of all benefits and services paid in your name, which you can review to confirm all the services listed were received.
- Protect your medical insurance card. Take as much care as you would with a debit or credit card. Consider leaving your insurance card in a safe place, and don’t carry it with you unless it’s necessary.
- Safeguard your insurance-related paperwork. Shred or file your Explanation of Benefits in a safe, and preferably locked, location.
- Report lost or stolen health insurance identification cards. Alert your insurance carrier of misplaced, lost, or stolen cards to avoid unauthorized use.
- Use vigilance when providing your personal or insurance information. Be sure you’re dealing with a reputable healthcare provider. Be cautious when offered free medical services. Often fraudsters use this as a way to obtain your health information.
- Review your credit reports annually. You have a right to request a free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Be sure your reports are free of any medical liens.