Medical Identity Theft
About medical identity theft, the World Privacy Forum medical identity theft report, and our key resources
The World Privacy Forum is the leading expert on medical ID theft. We published the first major report about medical identity theft in 2006 and brought this crime to the attention of the public for the first time. We maintain up-to-date information and tips for victims, as well as conduct and publish new research.
What is medical identity theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses a person’s name and sometimes other parts of their identity — such as insurance information — without the person’s knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods, or uses the person’s identity information to make false claims for medical services or goods. Medical identity theft frequently results in erroneous entries being put into existing medical records, and can involve the creation of fictitious medical records in the victim’s name.
Medical identity theft is a crime that can cause great harm to its victims. Yet despite the profound risk it carries, it is the least studied and most poorly documented of the cluster of identity theft crimes. It is also the most difficult to fix after the fact, because victims have limited rights and recourses. Medical identity theft typically leaves a trail of falsified information in medical records that can plague victims’ medical and financial lives for years.
Key World Privacy Forum Medical ID Theft Resources:
See the blog roll below for news and new content by date.
Consumer Excellence Award — World Privacy Forum executive director Pam Dixon has received a 2008 Consumer Excellence Award for her leadership and work in the area of medical identity theft and consumer privacy from Consumer Action. Also honored was Herb Weisbaum, a 5-time Emmy-winner who is a consumer contributor to NBC’s Today Show. Consumer Action was founded in 1971 and is a national non-profit organization focused on consumer education and advocacy. The awards ceremony was held in San Francisco on June 26th. The World Privacy Forum is honored to accept this award.
Medical ID theft — Based on interviews with numerous victims and others involved in the crime of medical identity theft, and based on our own work with victims, the World Privacy Forum has added some new information to its 2006 consumer tips for medical identity theft. We have also slightly updated some of the older tips based on new information. The Forum has also updated its medical identity theft landing page to reflect our new and ongoing work in this area.
Medical identity theft update — The Federal Trade Commission released its national ID theft survey, which for the first time contains statistics specific to medical identity theft. According to the FTC report (p. 21), 3 percent of all identity theft victims in 2005 were victims of medical identity theft, which means of 8.3 million ID theft victims, approximately 250,000 people were victimized by medical identity theft in that year alone. The purpose of the World Privacy Forum 2006 report was to prove that medical identity theft existed, and was already occurring in large numbers. At the time the report was published, the crime of medical identity theft had not been specifically studied, nor was it understood to exist. The FTC statistics abundantly affirm the thesis and conclusions of the WPF report.
Version 1: October 16, 2007 The World Privacy Forum, as part of its ongoing in-depth research into medical identity theft issues and responses, has outlined 8 best-practice responses to the crime by the health care sector. These best practices are based on interviews with victims, providers, and other stakeholders. These 8 best practices are
Medical identity theft | AHIMA — Executive director Pam Dixon spoke to thousands of AHIMA delegates in Philadelphia sharing the latest information on medical identity theft and outlining 8 best practice responses to the crime for the health care sector. Dixon specifically asked for the creation of national guidelines for helping medical identity theft victims, the ability for victims to set red flag alerts in their health care files, that providers train and have dedicated personnel to help medical identity theft victims, “john and jane doe” file extractions, a focus on addressing insider access to patient information, risk assessments specifically for medical identity theft, and educational efforts. The information in the speech was based on the latest World Privacy Forum research in the area of medical identity theft.