No matter how hard we try to be healthy, most of us eventually have to go to the hospital. Sometimes those situations are life-threatening, such as after a car or motorcycle accident, and we might not be in any position to provide the necessary medical information to the doctors and emergency personnel who are saving our lives. They rely on the information already in our charts, information that is sometimes wrong due to the rising danger of medical identity theft.
According to studies, over forty percent of all identity theft is medical. The dangers of this are many. Not only can it cost us money when we are erroneously charged for care we do not receive, but the person using our Social Security number or other information to get care might have a different blood type or allergies. In rare instances, it can be fatal. How astute is your hospital when it comes to verifying and collecting information about your health?
Identity theft can hurt you in a variety of ways. You can have your credit damaged, making it difficult to obtain home loans or credit cards. You can have new lines of credit opened in your name, making it difficult for you to prove you don’t owe that money. Criminals can use your Social Security number to obtain employment, compromising your well-deserved tax return. None of these are as potentially damaging as medical identity theft.
To help protect yourself from identity theft of all types, it is a good idea to:
- Keep your antivirus up to date on your computer.
- Use different passwords for each of your most critical logins and change these passwords regularly.
- Monitor your credit report.
- Pay close attention to any correspondence from the IRS.
- Check with the hospital to make sure no one else has been admitted under your name.
- Ask questions of your doctor if he reads or explains something you do not understand.
- Ask to see your chart.
Sometimes, the financial consequences of having our identity stolen reach the point where we need extra help. If you find yourself unable to manage this difficult situation alone, do not hesitate to seek the professional help of a Manhattan attorney who can handle medical malpractice cases and insurance fraud. A competent firm of attorneys can assist you in all aspects of this recovery, including determining whether or not there is any liability for the company that allowed your data to be breached.