How Dentists Can Personally Protect Themselves From Medical Identity TheftSubmitted by Creative Wealth Strategies on January 26th, 2017
Protecting your dental patient data has become critical in the day and age of cyber theft. But, as a dentist, you must also be diligent in assuring you don’t personally become the victim of a medical identity theft and the negative effects that come along if your personal data is stolen. With all the talk about Obamacare and health insurance lately medical identity theft is a serious issue that doesn’t get discussed enough in my opinion.
I was in a meeting with a cyber security expert this afternoon and it was an eye opener. Below, I’ll share what I learned which are 1) a few proactive steps you can take to help protect your personal health information from would-be cyber criminals, 2) how to recognize signs of a potential problem, and 3) what to do in the event your medical identity is compromised.
Proactive Steps to Protect Your Personal Health information
1. Ask questions – don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider how they safeguard your information.
2. Get copies of your personal medical records -- just like you should check your credit annually, it’s prudent to check your medical records at least once annually. Ideally, you’ll want to obtain copies of your personal medical records and update your records every time you receive treatment and/or visit a doctor. This way it will be easier for you to challenge any medical treatment(s) that show up in your records if used by a thief. If you notice an error or discrepancy, alert your healthcare provider and request a change.
3. Guard your driver’s license - your driver’s license and/or other government-issued IDs can be a jackpot to a cyber thief if this information is stolen along with your medical data. Be hesitant if your doctor or hospital asks you to scan these items and get assurance it’s absolutely necessary.
4. Health insurance card - if you lose your health insurance card, promptly call your health provider and ask for a new ID number and card.
5. Don’t share information over the phone – the expert in my meeting today, highly recommends you never share your health data or personal information over the phone or in an email unless you’re 100% sure you know who you are speaking with.Online hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated at making emails and fake websites look official, so be leery of emails soliciting this information.
How To Recognize Signs Of A Potential Problem
1. Carefully review your documentation – review your explanation of benefits summary or health provider bill to verify you aren’t billed for medical treatments you never received.
2. Check your credit report – review your credit report to see if there are collection accounts you don’t recognize.
3. Surprise call or letter from your health insurer – if your health insurer contacts you stating that you’ve reached your benefit limit when you know you haven’t this is an obvious red flag. Another red flag is receiving a letter from your health insurer denying a claim you never filed, for a medical condition you don’t have.
What To Do In The Event Your Medical Identity Is Compromised
1. Get on the phone immediately – contact the health facility where the fraud may have happened to verify it wasn’t a clerical error.
2. File a police report – this most likely won’t help in catching the thief but the police will have record that you’ve been the victim of a crime.
3. File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission! - this is a suggestion I never would have thought to do. But apparently, you’ll receive a step-by-step recovery plan. There is also an organization called the Identity Theft Resource Center that also offers free help.
4. Contact your health insurer - report the problem, most likely your insurer will have a fraud hotline.
5. Get copies of your medical records - ask your health care providers for copies your medical records. You can check out healthinfolaw.org for more information.
Do you have a plan in place to protect your medical identity? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.