The Identity Theft Resource Center produced a survey last month showing that medical-related identity theft accounted for 43% of all identity thefts reported in the US in 2013. This amount is far greater than identity theft involving banking, finance, the government, military or education. Since 2009, between 27.8 million and 67.7 million people have had their medical records breached.
Stolen medical information is generally used to commit insurance fraud and illegally obtain prescription drugs.
Unfortunately, this type of identity theft has one of the lowest recourses for victims. They experience financial repercussions and may often find erroneous information added to their medical files. According to James Pyles, a Washington, DC lawyer, “It’s almost impossible to clear up a medical record once medical identity theft has occurred.”
Identity theft occurs when someone gains unauthorized access to the medical information, and passes it on without permission (20%) or when systems are hacked (14%).
But the majority of identity theft (over 50%) occurs when the theft of a computer or other medical device is involved. This is why it’s so important to protect those devices. “We say, encrypt, encrypt, encrypt,” says Rachel Seeger, a spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services.
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