Adam Kennedy – [cc id=’csid’] Restoration Supervisor; Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist

By now you’ve heard horror stories involving individuals’ credit scores being ruined by financial identity theft, ads on the television for credit monitoring protection, and you may have experienced identity theft in your own home.  While financial identity theft continues to receive ample coverage in the news today, a more dangerous, sometimes fatal, form of theft lurks in its shadows unnoticed: Medical Identity Theft (MIT).

Imagine being rushed to the hospital for a critical treatment and receiving the wrong blood type. Even going in for a common cold and being prescribed a drug you are fatally allergic to. When an identity thief uses your Identity, incorrect information such as treatments, dosages, allergies, and even blood type are being documented in your medical profile for future visits.   As many as 500,000 Americans have been victims of medical identify theft, according to the World Privacy Forum. With the amount of medical identity theft in 2010, it is important to understand how it happens, in which ways it’s used, and what precautionary measures you can take to avoid it. In Part I of this blog series, I will cover the methods identity thieves use to steal medical information. In Part II, you will find information on the ways identity thieves use your medical information. Part III will then discuss the preventive measures you can take to avoid MIT.

How do identity thieves steal my medical information?

Although there are several ways an ID thief can steal from you, the most common method is by hacking into the medical records held by the mainframe computer of hospitals. A medical clinic in Weston, Florida was breached when a front desk clerk downloaded medical records of more than one thousand patients and made $2.8 million in false medical claims.  There have also been many cases of employees and burglars stealing computers from the hospital that contain medical records. In California, the San Jose Medical Group experienced one of the largest breaches in history in which 185,000 records were stolen from two Dell computers overnight.