Medical Identity Theft on the Rise

Medical Identity Theft on the Rise

Guarding against the fastest growing form of fraud in the United States.–PC Pitstop

By Stu Sjouwerman, for Security Awareness Training

The Government Health IT site had some very interesting new data: “Medical identity theft is up nearly 20 percent in the past year, according to a new study, making it the fastest-growing form of fraud in the United States.

The 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft, in fact, found that that an estimated 1.84 million people are victims of medical identity theft, costing victims an estimated $12.3 billion. While the extent of medical identity theft is surprising, even more alarming is its major cause: medical identity theft tends to run in families.

According to Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, the research shows that almost 60 percent of the medical identity theft reported in the Ponemon study was due to misuse of medical credentials among family members.

In the Ponemon report, 36 percent of respondents paid an average of $18,860 in out-of-pocket expenses. Among other things, the medical identity thief may leave a string of unpaid medical bills that affect the victim’s financial well-being. Also, corrupt medical records can and do lead to mistreatment, misdiagnosis, delay in treatment, or being prescribed the wrong pharmaceuticals.

In fact, 15 percent of the medical identity theft victims surveyed in the Ponemon study experienced a misdiagnosis as a result of the fraud, 12 percent were mistreated as a result of false information in their medical records, 14 percent experience a delay in treatment, and 11 percent were prescribed the wrong pharmaceuticals.

A recent paper by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance cites the lack of awareness among professionals and consumers about the crime and its potential dangers. Few people think of themselves as having a medical identity and thus the idea of someone stealing their medical identity is not even on their radar screen, the report explained. KnowBe4’s new module “Handling Sensitive Information Securely” would certainly be a good first step.

Without extreme vigilance, the increased use of electronic health records under the broad umbrella of health reform, including the Affordable Care Act and the HITECH Act, will make it easier than ever to steal medical records. Medical identity fraud is a societal issue that must be addressed at all levels, from individuals to providers to health plans. But the efforts of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance and the healthcare ecosystem as a whole can help to prevent these dangerous crimes.–More at:

This excerpt appears with permission from

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1 thought on “Medical Identity Theft on the Rise”

  1. while there are those who wish to do harm, if we are vigilant and protective and use good security devices we can stop the hacking.. it is only when we (as a people) get lazy and lax that these things happen. I have a company the provides secure portable USB EMR's and to date not one of our clients have been hacked. Why? Simple we employ 256AES encryption as a back up but the main reason is that if you are wearing it or carrying it on your person how can it get hacked? Think about it, is someone going to come up to you and say, stick em up, I want your medical records?? Very unlikely but it could happen, that's why ours i encrypted and this particular encryption hasn't been hacked in 25 years and going strong. Protect what is yours and you won't ever be sorry.

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