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For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2012
Media Contact:
Alejandra Castro-Núñez

Protect yourself from medical identity theft

(MIAMI, February 28, 2012) – If you get a bill for medical services that you never received it may be a sign that your medical information could have been compromised.  Another type of identity theft is medical identity theft where identity thieves use personal and health information to get medical treatment, prescription drugs and sometimes even surgery.   Furthermore, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s top consumer protection agency, dishonest people working in a medical setting could be using your information to submit false bills to insurance companies.  In fact, just this morning the FTC revealed its 2011 top complaint categories and for the 11th year in a row, identity theft topped the list.
So how do you know if you may have been a victim of this serious economic crime?  Below are a few tips that may reveal signs of medical identity theft.

Medical identity theft may alter your medical and health insurance records. When a person uses your identity to receive treatment, a record is created with the imposter’s medical information that could be mistaken for your medical information – say, a different blood type, an inaccurate history of drug or alcohol abuse, test results that aren’t yours, or a diagnosis of an illness, allergy or condition you don’t have. Any of these could lead to improper treatment, which in turn, could lead to injury, illness or worse. 
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to completely avoid medical identity theft.  However, you can minimize your risks by following a few tips offered by the FTC.

In addition, when visiting a doctor’s office, ask how they protect your personal information.  
The Miami-Dade County Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Division suggests that you avoid sharing personal information like your Social Security number, insurance account information or any details of your health or medical conditions on the Internet or over the phone.  However, if you decide to share your information online, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL that begins “https:” (the “s” is for secure).

If you think someone is misusing your personal information, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT.