Experts: Stolen Patient Data Is Most Lucrative Form of Identity Theft

Medical identity theft has become one of the most lucrative forms of identity theft, according to a panel of cybersecurity experts at the recent Digital Health Conference in New York, MedPage Today reports.

About Medical Identity Theft

Scammers can use electronic health records, health insurance information and other personal health data to make false or inflated insurance claims, get prescription drugs or obtain medical treatment at the account holder's expense.

Some fraudsters obtain personal health data through "phishing" scams in which they pretend to be a representative of a physician practice or insurance company. Data breaches at health care facilities also can lead to medical identity theft.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, medical identity theft can cause patients to:

  • Receive bills for illegal claims;
  • Have a lower credit score because of unpaid medical bills;
  • Be denied coverage because of claims filed by a fraudster; and
  • Lose health insurance coverage.

Lucrative Form of Identity Theft

The cybersecurity experts noted that EHRs can be worth up to $50 on the black market, while Social Security numbers are worth about $3 and credit card information is worth about $1.50.

John DeLuca of IT company EMC said that unlike a credit card number, patients' health information cannot be canceled or altered to prevent criminals from using the data (Petrochko, MedPage Today, 12/7).

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