Residents are urged to be sure to guard their insurance and medical identification cards against theft. Medical identity theft is on the rise, according to the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency.
A thief who steals someone’s personal, insurance or medical information can use it to illegally obtain or pay for healthcare treatments, buy prescription drugs, have elective surgeries or submit false insurance claims in that person’s name.
The agency noted that medical identity theft can have a serious impact on an individual’s personal, financial and medical well-being, including any medical treatments received if the false information winds up on their medical records.
Have I Been A Victim?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says you may be a victim of medical identity theft if:
- You get a bill for medical services you didn’t receive.
- A debt collector contacts you about medical debt you don’t owe.
- You order a copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com, or by calling 1-877-322-8228 and see medical collection notices you don’t recognize.
- You try to make a legitimate insurance claim and your health plan says you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- You are denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
What Should I Do?
- Pay close attention to your medical, insurance and financial records in order to spot discrepancies and possible fraud.
- Keep detailed records of all medical services received.
- Request copies, in writing, from each provider including doctors, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and health plans. Providers should produce your documents within 30 days.
- File a complaint with the FTC at http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
- File a police report and send copies of the report to your health plan’s fraud department, your health-care providers and the three nationwide credit reporting companies.
- Place a fraud alert with one of the following three nationwide credit reporting companies. The one you call is required to contact the others who will place an alert on their report.
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; http://www.transunion.com/
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com
- Learn how to freeze your credit by visiting the County’s Consumer Protection website and click on Consumer Topics - Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft – Freezing Your Credit. Freezing your credit file can prevent thieves from opening new credit accounts under your name.
Become familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.
- HIPAA gives consumers the right to copies of their records that are maintained by health plans and medical providers covered by that law.
- HIPAA provides consumers the right to have errors corrected in their medical and billing records.