The massive data breach provides yet another example of the limited understanding by media and many “experts” of the full spectrum of risks resulting from data breaches in healthcare organizations.

While breaches do put consumers at risk of financial identity theft, it is the threat of medical identity theft and fraud that is more serious and less well understood. In the eyes of most people, every data breach puts consumers at risk for identity theft, which leads to bank account fraud, credit card fraud, and tax fraud – all things financial. Financial precautions are good, but ignore the risks of medical identity theft and fraud.

Because the compromised data included both health insurance identities as well as social security numbers, the major risk here is medical identity theft. This can happen a number of different ways but the two most common are 1) someone uses your medical identity to obtain medical goods, services and prescriptions pretending to be you or 2) a devious individual (often organized crime) uses your medical identity to bill your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid for all kinds of medical goods, services and prescriptions without your knowledge.

The next time you go to a doctor or emergency room they will pull up your record and most of the things on there are not you. Your pre-existing conditions, your allergies, your drug interactions, possibly even your blood type may have changed. Medical identity fraud can literally kill you.

There is a recently created non-profit organization called the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) that has a mission to educate consumers (and the media) of this growing problem.

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February 17, 2015 by Bob Gregg, ID Experts, FraudAvengers Blog