Medical identity theft is the crime committed when a person utilizes another’s name, medical insurance information and identity or social security number to gain access to medical services or drugs without the person’s knowledge.
The Most Dangerous Form of Identity Theft
According to the World Privacy Forum, medical identity theft is the least documented and most poorly researched of all the identity theft types. It is also the most difficult of all to rectify as it is often only discovered long after the fact and there are few laws with specific recourses in place. This assists in making it one of the most dangerous forms of identity theft.
Medical identity theft can have serious financial implications. For example, an accomplished thief could book his or herself into a first class, private hospital to have surgery. The ensuing bill would then be directed to the victim. We all know how expensive health care can be, let alone private healthcare. If the victim doesn’t have medical insurance or an immediate recourse to solve the issue, it is quite likely the victim will be held liable for the outstanding amount. Even though medical fraud is a known practice, and with the help of a detective and a good lawyer, the victim is likely to eventually solve the issue. It is very expensive to hire the help to get out of a mess like this and it is probable the victim will receive a bad credit rating during this period of resolution. The exact figures of how much money is lost in medical identity theft every year is unsubstantiated, but according to the aforementioned report, it is estimated at 120 billion dollars in the US every year.
Worse by far than the financial implications, are the medical implications that can occur. It is quite likely that the criminal will leave a record on the victim’s medical history. These records can detail blood type, allergies, disorders or other vital medical information. With these cases not always traced immediately, the victim’s falsified records may sit until a life threatening situation occurs. For example, the unconscious victim is taken to the hospital after an accident. In this case the partial medical history of the criminal could actually be accessed, resulting in the true holder of the identity being mistreated or misdiagnosed. This could result in severe illness or even death and highlights the extreme, but viable consequences a case like this could have.
Often an employer or a life insurance company will pull medical records on clients while performing a thorough background check on them. If the client is or has in the past been a victim of medical fraud, it is possible that such records would reflect that they suffered from drug or alcohol abuse, have a history of life threatening diseases, or just about anything as the records are open for interpretation. These kinds of records are very difficult to rectify and sometimes even when rectified on one database, they still remain false on another. The personal implications can have lifelong implications to the victim.