Monday, June 15, 2009
Increasing use of electronic records in the health care system means a growing number of people are falling victim to medical identity theft. A June 12 article in the New York Times by Walecia Konrad focuses on this emerging risk. It estimates that in 2007 more than 250,000 Americans a year were victims of medical identity theft, a number that is increasing. Â A World Privacy Forum report published in 2006 found that despite the profound risk it carries medical identity theft remains the least studied and most poorly documented of all identity theft crimes. The report estimated that there could be as many as a quarter to half a million people who have been victims of this crime. Medical ID theft occurs when someone uses a personâ€™s name or other parts of their identity such as insurance information, without the personâ€™s knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods or to make false claims for medical services or goods. Â The World Privacy Forum notes that victims may find it more difficult to recover from medical identity theft as medical errors are disseminated and redisseminated through computer networks and other medical information-sharing pathways. ID theft remains the number one consumer complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), accounting for 32 percent of all fraud complaints in 2007. Some 258,427 identity theft complaints were reported to the FTC in 2007, up 5 percent on the previous year. Medical identity theft accounted for 1.6 percent of all identity theft victims, according to the FTC. Check out I.I.I. info on identity theft.