CHICAGO, IL – Medical identity theft can be one of the most devastating forms of identity theft. In 2014, it increased 22 percent according to recent studies. This increase significantly impacts people because victims find it difficult to undo the damage caused by inaccurate medical records or fraudulent bills. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is urging consumers to carefully check all health-related documentation from doctors, drug stores and insurance providers.
The thefts start when scammers contact their victims by phone claiming to be representatives of state health departments. Once the thieves have the information, it can result in incorrect entries being placed in existing medical records and can involve the creation of fictitious medical records in your name. It can leave a trail of falsified information in medical records that can plague your medical and financial life for years or even put your health at risk.
“Health departments do not conduct these types of phone surveys,” says Steve Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Don’t give personal health information over the phone to anyone unless you have placed the call and know who you’re dealing with.”
Make sure to read your medical and insurances statements regularly and completely, as they can show signs of identity theft. Check the name of the provider, the date of service and the service provided. If you see a mistake, contact your insurance company and report a problem.
Watch out for signs of medical identity theft:
- A bill for medical services you didn’t receive.
- A call from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe.
- Medical collection notices on your credit report that you don’t recognize.
- A notice from your health plan saying you reached your benefit limit.
- A denial of insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.