Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses a person's name and sometimes other parts of their identity -- such as insurance information -- without the person's knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods, or uses the person’s identity information to make false claims for medical services or goods. Medical identity theft frequently results in erroneous entries being put into existing medical records, and can involve the creation of fictitious medical records in the victim’s name.
Medical identity theft is a crime that can cause great harm to its victims. Yet despite the profound risk it carries, it is the least studied and most poorly documented of the cluster of identity theft crimes. It is also the most difficult to fix after the fact, because victims have limited rights and recourses. Medical identity theft typically leaves a trail of falsified information in medical records that can plague victims’ medical and financial lives for years.
The World Privacy Forum researched and published the first major report about medical identity theft and brought this crime to the attention of the public for the first time (Full report ). We also maintain the only detailed FAQ for victims of the crime as well as consumer tips and best practices for healthcare providers. We have also published a report on health care providers' obligations under the newly issued FTC Red Flag rules. We are currently completing the research on our second report on medical identity theft, which will be published in 2012.
The World Privacy Forum interactive Medical ID theft map shows the cities and towns where medical identity theft has been happening in the US. This map is based upon data from the Federal Trade Commission. To see the map, visit the map page.
CONSUMER RESOURCE: FAQ for Victims of Medical ID Theft: Detailed steps for recovering from medical identity theft for victims
This FAQ for Medical ID Theft Victims is a step- by- step guide to accessing and amending medical records, getting a history of disclosures of medical files, and recovering from medical identity theft. This FAQ was republished April 20, 2012. It was originally released June 30, 2006 and has been fully updated, with many new segments added based on WPF's current medical ID theft research. This FAQ contains sample letters for victims, and is detailed.
CONSUMER TIPS: What to do if you are a victim of medical ID theft (or are worried about it)
These consumer tips are short and more general than our detailed FAQ for victims. These are tips suited for victims of medical identity theft, and for people who are concerned about knowing what steps they can take to detect and prevent medical identity theft. These tips were republished April 20, 2012 after a complete update based on WPF's newest medical ID theft research.
A Patient's Guide to HIPAA is a resource created specifically for consumers. Patients who are concerned about medical identity theft and who may be victims often have many related questions about HIPAA; this Guide is written for them and for anyone who wants to find practical ways of understanding HIPAA and their medical privacy.
This report discusses the applicability of the new FTC Red Flag regulations to the health care sector along with suggestions for providers. The recently issued regulations by the FTC require financial institutions and creditors to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs. Health care providers -- whether they are for-profit, non-profit, or governmental entities -- may have obligations under the new rules. Medical identity theft is a real concern in the health care sector, and is included expressly in the Red Flag Rules Guidelines. The new regulations take effect in 2009.
This report finds that medical identity theft is a crime that can cause great harm to its victims. False and erroneous entries in victim medical files and other harms make it imperative to understand this crime better and learn more about it and how it works.
BEST PRACTICES: Medical Identity Theft: Best Practices and Solutions for Providers
This is the World Privacy Forum's 8 best-practice responses to medical identity theft for the health care sector. Based on ongoing research in the area of medical identity theft.
World Privacy Forum speech on medical identity theft to AHIMA with the latest research and eight best -practice responses for responding to the crime.
The World Privacy Forum, as the organization that published the first major report about this crime, is very actively working on the issue of medical identity theft to both understand and document the crime and to find the best practices that can be used to assist victims after the fact and to detect, prevent, and deter this crime from happening. We are also working with victims of this crime to assist them.
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