Medical Identity Theft
Identity theft isn't limited to credit cards—thieves can also hijack medical information to get care, prescription drugs or file fraudulent claims. Be aware and take measures to protect your identity. Strangers can steal information such as your Social Security number or health plan number, and use this information to see a doctor or get medicine. This is called medical identity theft. You could also be billed for services you never got, and incorrect information could be entered into your health record.
Here are some tips to prevent medical identity theft:
- Keep documents like your Medicare or Medicaid ID card and Social Security number in a safe place.
- Never let anyone use your Medicare or Medicaid ID, Social Security or insurance numbers. It’s against the law.
- Shred papers like receipts, insurance forms, and doctor bills when you don’t need them anymore.
- Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw the bottles out.
- Be careful if someone offers you free health services or products and asks for your health plan number. Thieves may pretend to work for an insurance company, doctor’s office, clinic, or drug store.
- Before you share personal information, ask why the person needs it and how they will keep it safe.
- Don’t share insurance numbers or Social Security numbers by email. Don’t share this information by phone unless you called the person and you know the office or company.
- Read your medical bills and insurance statements carefully. Make sure they list the right doctor, treatment date, and services that you really got. If anything is wrong, call the office that sent the bill, and tell them. Write down the name of the person you talked to.
- When someone uses your name or personal information to get health care or medicine, mistakes can enter your health records. Tell your doctors and pharmacist about the medications you take and your health history. Make sure they have the right information.
Remember: The sooner you spot medical identity theft, the easier it will be to stop the thief and protect yourself. For more information on medical identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission website or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338). Or visit the U.S. Health and Human Services Medical Identity Theft and Medicare Fraud here.