Medical Identity Theft a Growing Problem in US; Fastest-Growing Segment of Identity Theft

Medical identity theft has claimed 1.5 million victims in the United States, according to the PwC’s Health Research Institute in its research study, “Old Data Learns New Tricks”.  In fact, medical identity theft is the fastest growing segment of identity theft in America, says Jim Koenig, director and leader of PwC’s identity theft practice.

Phil Blank, a senior analyst with Javelin Strategy and Research, which examines incidents of fraud and helps clients respond to them, said 8% of data breach victims in the U.S. had their medical information stolen in 2010. Medical records were the fifth most commonly stolen data. The most common was credit-card numbers. Blank cited the slow economy and more people losing insurance as drivers behind increasing medical identity theft.

Pam Dixon, founder of the World Privacy Forum, said in a 2006 report that “medical identity theft may also harm its victims by creating false entries in their health records at hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and insurance companies.”  She said the changes to the records could remain in the files for many years. “Victims of medical identity theft may receive the wrong medical treatment, find their health insurance exhausted, and could become uninsurable for both life and health insurance coverage,” Dixon said in the report.

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