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How can I protect myself from medical-related identity theft and fraud?

Medical identity theft and fraud are serious crimes that can cost you money and lead to inaccurate medical records and legal troubles. Protect your medical identity by:

  • keeping your insurance and medical identification cards in a safe place.
  • protecting paper and electronic copies of your medical and health insurance records. Shred any outdated forms.
  • withholding your health plan ID number or personal information from anyone you don’t know or from a website that isn’t verified as a secure and encrypted portal.
  • examining your explanation of benefits forms to ensure there are no treatments listed that you have not received. Contact your insurers about any discrepancies.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Scam artists are constantly inventing new ways to steal personal information that could give them access to the victim’s financial assets or government/insurance benefits. To prevent identity theft:

  • Guard your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers in the same way you protect your credit card numbers. Never give these numbers to a stranger on the phone, in an e-mail or on a website.
  • Don't carry your health insurance card all the time. Just put the card in your purse or wallet when you know you might need to use it at a doctor’s appointment or pharmacy. Or carry a photocopy of the card with all the identification numbers except the last four digits blacked out.
  • Decline all offers of free medical equipment, health services, groceries or gift cards that require you to provide your insurance information. If the offer is truly free, your ID numbers aren't needed.
  • Ignore people who try to sell you a new insurance policy by saying they are government officials, or that the plan they're offering is approved by the government.
  • Government officials will not be calling you about any of the new health insurance programs or any part of your Medicare coverage.
  • Report to authorities anyone who claims that they are "with the government" and wants your money or your personal information. Ignore anyone who uses the sales pitch that "you have been preapproved" for insurance because of the new health care law.
  • Routinely review the statements you receive from your doctor, hospital, pharmacy, insurance company or Medicare in order to identify mistakes.
  • Look through the statements for medical services you didn’t receive, repeat billings for the same procedures or claims for services your doctor, hospital or pharmacist never provided.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone receives medical care while pretending to be you. They may fraudulently rack up bills and even get your insurance company to pay medical costs.

You can help prevent medical identity theft by taking extra precautions to guard your personal information. Never provide medical or health insurance information over the phone or by email, unless you initiate the call or contact. Beware of free or too-good-to-be-true offers of services or products that require you to provide your medical or health insurance plan information. Keep all of your medical bills, cards and other records in a safe place, and shred them before you throw them out. Cut up old health insurance cards before discarding them.

In spite of your best efforts, you may still fall victim to medical identity theft. The best way to catch it early is to read your medical and insurance statements carefully. Make sure that they match up with your doctor’s visits, any tests performed or other medical services.

Other signs that you have been a victim of medical-identity theft is if your health plan says you have reached a benefit limit, if your medical records indicate that you have a condition that you don’t have, or if you get a call from a collection agency trying to collect on a medical debt you don’t owe.

Should you notice any irregular activity, contact your health insurance company immediately—it’s possible that someone is receiving health care services using your health insurance plan.

Medical identity thieves try to obtain your personal and health insurance information for the purpose of using your health insurance coverage to get medical treatment, prescription drugs or surgery. The best way to protect yourself against this possibility is to make sure you verify the source before sharing your personal or medical information. Safeguard your medical and health insurance information and shred any insurance forms, prescriptions or doctor statement before disposing of them.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.