News & Resources

Medical identity theft on the rise

Oct 19, 2013 Dave King

Occurrences of medical identity theft have increased in recent years, and this type of crime can be more dangerous than when credit card information is compromised. Not only can it have financial implications, but people's health could be compromised because the wrong information is on medical records.

For this reason, it is important that financial institutions, such as short term lenders, be vigilant when reviewing applications because they can be one of the first lines of defense. Strong ID verification procedures are a must, and lenders should also inform customers on how to prevent medical identity theft as it increasingly becomes an issue.

Here are some tips that can be shared with customers to avoid such an incident:

- Never share information over the phone: Many identity theft scams occur via phone, so consumers should be informed to avoid sharing medical or personal information on this medium. Of course, receiving a phone call from their doctor could be an exception, but unless people know who they are talking to they should keep their information to themselves.

- Be careful about sharing information on the Internet: Phone calls aren't the only place scams originate, as identity thieves are increasingly using the Internet to target consumers. Therefore, before entering information on a website, people should be aware of why it is needed, who it will be shared with and how it will be kept safe.

- Be wary of "free" medical services: Another way scam artists attempt to steal personal information is by offering "free" medical services. These can be attractive to people who may not be able to afford the high costs of health care, but consumers should do their research before submitting names, addresses and other data. Often, identity thieves use these services to obtain names and insurance information for financial gain.

- Properly dispose of old documents: Believe it or not, criminals will go through the trash to obtain personal information for identity theft. That said, people need to be sure they properly dispose of any old medical documents that put them at risk. Simply throwing these papers in the trash isn't enough. Instead, all medical records should be shredded and then put in the trash to ensure sensitive information can not be obtained.