*One of the most common forms of identity theft on the rise is healthcare fraud, which is estimated to affect over two million Americans each year.
This type of fraud is probably the most compromising since thieves can obtain multiple pieces of valuable information like your health insurance information, medical history, social security number, address and other personal identifiers.
Unfortunately, there is no real foolproof way to prevent identity theft, but there are a few precautions you can take. Let’s take a look at the three practices you implement to protect you and your family from healthcare fraud.
Use an Identity Theft Protection Service
Identity theft is not 100 percent preventable, but using an identify theft protection service can help keep yours and your family’s sensitive information safe. Identity theft protection services also provide insurance and restoration should you and your family become targets. This means that you can access and monitor any suspicious activity beforehand such as social security number fraud, credit reports and activity, bank accounts and other personal information on the web. On the other hand, an identity theft protection service can also help you restore your identity in the process of recovering from healthcare fraud.
Keep Track of Your Credit Reports and Insurance Statements
In addition to using an identity theft protection service, it’s important to always keep track of your credit reports, medical bills and insurance statements. Monitoring your credit frequently can help you catch medical identity theft by being aware of any medical accounts sent to collections or any new or inaccurate information added to your credit report. You can set up alerts so that you are sent a text message or email any time there is new activity. In addition, say you have a medical bill or debt that you’ve just paid off, check to see that the account is closed and removed from your credit report. Keep copies of all of your medical files (i.e., medical treatments or services) and insurance documents for your records. That way, you can keep track of exactly what you owe, what payments you’ve already made, and be aware of any unpaid medical bills reported that you don’t recognize. If something doesn’t look right to you and the claims don’t match any medical care you have received recently, then you should always double check with your insurance company first and also the creditors to dispute the credit report information immediately.
Never Share Your Your Personal Information
One obvious thing that we shouldn’t do, that is often overlooked is sharing medical information with others. Yes, even relatives. Unfortunately, 47 percent of medical identity theft occurs when a family member poses as a friend or family member and uses his or hers’ health insurance or other identification for medical services. However, there are also people who willingly give their medical information to a friend or relative in need (perhaps a family member who doesn’t have health insurance) and they don’t consider the consequences later down the road. Letting someone else use your identity to receive healthcare is also an illegal act of medical fraud and should be avoided. Never share any personal or medical information with friends or family because you will be the one to pay in the end — literally!
It’s estimated that 1 in 4 consumers in the United States have had their personal medical identification compromised. Therefore, protecting sensitive data like credit card information, medical records and other personal information is critical. Keep these three practices in mind to keep you and your family safe from identity, medical and/or financial theft.