Identity theft is on the rise these days and money isn’t the only thing being stolen. I know several people who have been victims of medical identity theft which is when someone steals personal information to get free medical care. So to protect myself and my family, here are some of the steps I’m taking.
1. Shred medical information before throwing away.
Whenever I receive anything in the mail that contains my name, insurance policy number and any other information, I shred it when I’m done. If someone finds these things in my trash, they can use it to commit medical identity fraud. This includes health insurance forms, prescriptions and even labels on prescription bottles. So make sure they’re torn up or shredded before throwing away. I would also suggest investing in a quality paper shredder, that way shredding is quick and easy.
2. Check medical statements for clues.
Another thing I’ve started doing is examining my EOB also known as the Explanation of Benefits. This is the statement that my health plan sends after every doctor’s visit and what many medical identity thieves want us to toss aside. I check it for clues that someone is using my medical identity, like doctor’s names I don’t recognize or dates of services that I’ve never had. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, contact your health insurance. By doing a quick check, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress, time and money.
3. If your insurance card is stolen or lost, report it!
One time, one of my friends lost his insurance card and forgot to report it. Someone found it and started using it to pay for services, treatments, you name it. So if you or anyone in your household loses their card, make sure the health insurance company has been notified. They’ll give you a new account number to prevent someone from using yours. When I lose my wallet, I immediately call my bank and credit card companies, so I try to do the same thing when it comes to medical card.
Medical identity theft is not just about being wrongfully billed, scammers will have access to medical records containing personal information about private health issues, allergies or required medication. The idea of that alone can be very scary and upsetting. So to guard yourself and your privacy, keep a lookout for clues and shred everything you throw away.