Sep 23, 2013 Dave King
As more industries move sensitive information into digital environments, records management and ID verification standards have never been more important. Companies have largely struggled to protect employee and consumer identities in the past several years, with estimates indicating that millions of individuals are affected by the crime each year, causing billions of dollars in damages.
The economy continues to experience a resurgence, and one could only begin to imagine how much stronger the financial situation in the United States would be if billions of dollars were not lost to fraud every year. Businesses can be the first line of defense against these crimes, while also improving their statures among target and prospective markets and minimizing the risk of fines and incurred financial losses.
Medical sector needs better ID verification
The Dallas News recently reported that medical identity theft has spread more rapidly than most other industries, and that patient information is often far more sensitive than other types of records. While all businesses will not necessarily be handling patient data, the ways in which organizations are adjusting strategies to minimize the risk of identity theft can be helpful for the average company in other industries.
According to the news provider, one study from the Ponemon Institute revealed that roughly 313,000 individuals will lose their medical identities this year, which will translate to 1.84 million lost in the past three years. What's even more harrowing is that the final number will likely be higher than estimated, especially considering the massive effects major breaches come with.
The source cited one breach of Utah's Medicaid files last year, which led to the loss of patient information related to 780,000 individuals, all in one shot. While financial services companies are tasked with protecting sensitive information that can lead to direct monetary losses, experts warn of even more serious damages that come with medical identity theft.
"Medical identity theft has the potential to impede your medical treatment and the potential to kill you," Robin Slade, from the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, told the news provider. "A thief using your identity may have a different blood type, or not have the same allergies. It's a fraud that causes your medical record to get contaminated by a perpetrator."
All organizations must protect data
Identity theft is not the easiest crime to avoid, but the associated risks can be minimized by incorporating comprehensive policies and ensuring the enforcement of all ID verification standards. The damages that come with the loss of identities are substantial and often take years to reconcile, especially for the organizations responsible for the breach of information.
Sanctions, fines, hurt reputations and direct financial losses are only a few symptoms of identity theft, all of which can be crippling to the average company, especially small and medium-sized businesses. In the fight against identity theft, awareness, training, protections and security software are the most effective weapons.
Organizations should work to refine their strategies and become more reliable protectors of consumer and corporate information.