This growing form of fraud is harder to detect quickly—and the effects may be more than financial.

You’re cautious about protecting debit and credit card information, but what about your health insurance information? If you share details about medical procedures on social media, toss letters from the insurance company in the trash or hand over your Social Security number at the doctor’s office, you could be putting your identity—and your health—at risk.

Fraudsters want your medical information to commit medical identity theft.

Your personal data can be used to receive medical care, purchase goods like diabetes test strips or crutches or access prescription drugs. In some cases, crime rings use insurance information to defraud healthcare organizations.

“There are so many different ways to exploit your medical identity,” says Ann Patterson, program director for the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group working to raise awareness about the crime.

Medical identity theft is the fastest growing form of ID theft. More than 2.3 million Americans were victims in 2014—a number that has more than doubled since 2010.

When your medical identity is stolen, there are both financial and health implications.

While victims of credit card fraud are afforded protections through card issuers, victims of medical identity theft may be liable to healthcare providers and insurers for charges incurred through the fraudulent use of their medical identities (and legal fees to resolve the incident and prevent future fraud). In fact, 65 percent of victims spent an average of $13,500 to resolve the crime.

Medical identity theft can damage your credit or lead to higher insurance premiums and, in extreme cases, loss of insurance coverage. The health risks are even more alarming.

“Medical identity theft creates multiple identities commingled into a single file with your name on it,” Patterson says. “It can lead to misdiagnoses, mistreatment or a delay in care.”

A doctor accessing your electronic medical records could use the fraudster’s medical history, including information about blood type and drug allergies, to coordinate your care.

“The scariest thing about medical identity theft is that it puts your physical health in jeopardy,” says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Click here to read the full article in the online version of Arrive magazine.

By Jodi Helmer, January/February 2016, Arrive Magazine, Amtrak