June 21, 2011
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This is a relatively unknown crime but it's growing fast. It happens when someone posing as you gets medical treatment under your name. It gets worse when the imposter has used your insurance. Medical identity theft is hard to clear up thanks to the byzantine healthcare system and privacy laws that can make it tough for the victim to view their own medical records.
There was so much I couldn't fit into this three-and-a-half minute story. The gracious Pam Dixon of The World Privacy Forum was incredibly helpful throughout. Even the FTC sent me to her when I called them asking for information about this crime. She says more than 90 percent of medical identity theft takes place behind computer screens at hospitals, clinics and their subcontractors, so there's very little the humble patient can do about it. She and her colleagues are coming out with a new report on medical identity theft this summer. In the meantime, if your wallet is stolen, tell your insurance company as well as your credit card company. That insurance card could be a gold mine for someone.