Two Million Americans Were Victims of Medical Identity Theft in 2014
More than two million Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2014, according to new information from the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance.
The Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft found the number of consumers affected by medical identity theft has doubled in the last five years. In 2014, there were nearly 500,000 more victims than a year ago, a 22% increase.
For consumers, medical identity theft can be more complicated and costly to resolve than credit card theft, since stolen medical data can sometimes include permanent information such as a consumer’s name, Social Security number and date of birth.
Tragically, 65% of victims surveyed said they paid more than $13,000 in out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the fraud, a significant increase from 36% in 2013.
Unlike credit card fraud where card issuers often absorb unauthorized charges, medical identity theft is typically left at the hands of the victims. In 2014, victims paid over $20 billion to resolve these issues.
Nearly half of these surveyed said medical identity theft had an effect on their reputation. Of those, nearly 90% suffered embarrassment stemming from disclosure of sensitive personal health conditions.
In most cases, victims of medical identity theft are unaware of the crime for more than three months after their information has been compromised. Because of HIPAA privacy regulations, victims of medical fraud must be involved in their resolution steps. Only 10% of people surveyed said they were completely satisfied with their resolution efforts.
Not surprisingly, victims of medical theft feel their healthcare providers should do a better job at protecting their information. Nearly four in five respondents said their healthcare providers should be doing more to ensure their privacy. 48% said they would consider changing providers if their records were ever lost or stolen. 40% said they expect prompt notification if a breach occurs.
“2015 will be a year of increased attention to the pervasiveness and damaging effects of medical identity theft. As we’ve already seen this year, the healthcare industry is and will continue to be a major target for hackers,” Ann Patterson, senior vice president and program director at MIFA, said in a statement.