In the health care industry, data breaches are a common occurrence. Medical records are a prime target for cybercriminals. They offer value because they may contain a great deal of personal information, including names, addresses, insurance information, social security numbers, and medical histories.
Many types of identity theft can be committed with medical records, from opening fraudulent accounts to receiving medical treatment or prescription medications in your name. Despite the fact that there is no foolproof way to protect your medical records from data breaches, you can take some steps to help protect your identity and medical records.
Here’s how to protect your medical information from cybercriminals.
1. Don’t Overshare Information with Medical Providers
When you fill out a medical form at the doctor’s office, you are asked for a great deal of information, including your medical history, preexisting conditions, and personal information.
Even though it’s important to provide your medical providers with a comprehensive view of your health, you shouldn’t overshare; the goal should be to minimize the amount of records containing sensitive information that can be used to commit identity theft.
Most standard forms ask for your SSN, address, and insurance information; however, some medical providers may not need this information, or they may already have it. Before you fill out a medical form, check with the medical office if you need to provide personal information.
Look at how your data is protected and who will receive it before you submit it to a website. Review the privacy policies.
2. Don’t Answer Unsolicited Requests
If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from someone claiming to be from your insurance company or medical provider, don’t respond with personal information right away. The person on the other end of the communication may not be who they claim to be. IContact your insurance company or medical provider directly or log in to your medical portal if you need to reach them.
In emails you didn’t expect, don’t click any links or download any attachments.
3. Review All Medical Documents
Make sure you review your medical bills and the Explanation of Benefits provided by your insurance company. This can prevent you from being charged for services that someone else received, or it can help you identify services that your insurance company should have covered.
Examine everything you receive from your medical providers and insurance company for signs of suspicious activity.
4. Report Signs of Identity Theft
Report any signs of identity theft to the proper parties – if the identity theft is medical, you should contact your insurance provider. You may also need to file a police report, notify the credit bureaus, and monitor your credit report.
The following are some red flags of identity theft:
- Receiving bills for services you didn’t receive.
- Debt collectors calling you for debts you do not recognize.
- Your insurance provider notifying you that your benefit limits have been reached.
- Seeing accounts and activity you don’t recognize on your credit report.
Health records contain personal and health information that can be used to commit identity theft. Watch for signs that you have become a victim and take proactive steps to protect your identity.
Is your personal information on the dark web? Make sure your identity isn’t at risk!