Medical identity theft accounts for 3 percent of identity theft crimes, or 249,000 of the estimated 8.3 million people who had their identities stolen in 2005, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But what exactly is medical identity theft and why does the World Privacy Forum say it is the most difficult of identity theft crimes to correct?
…Medical identity theft is the inappropriate or unauthorized misrepresentation of individually identifiable health information for the purpose of obtaining access to property or services, which may result in long-lasting harm to an individual interacting with the healthcare continuum.2 It “frequently results in erroneous entries being put into existing medical records, and can involve the creation of fictitious medical records in the victim’s name. Medical identity theft typically leaves a trail of falsified information in medical records that can plague victims’ medical and financial lives for years.”
Examples of medical identity theft include situations wherein an individual accesses medical services in another individual’s name to:
Obtain benefits or services for which the individual is not eligible
Obtain services for which the individual will not pay
Perpetrate other fraud or illegal activity (such as erroneous billings or drug-seeking behavior for personal use or illegal distribution)
“The Cascading Effect of Medical Identity Theft,” [below], demonstrates how medical identity theft affects an individual and his or her healthcare from the initial theft to corrupted health records.