There are few things as important as our private medical information but all the technological advancements are putting all of that private information at risk as doctors and hospitals are transferring written files to electronic medical record data banks. Medical identify theft has increased 125% since 2010 and criminal cyber attacks on our medical information are on the increase. So far in 2015, more than 100 million patient files have been breached. Identity Theft Resource Center reports that medical information theft is progressing at a rate faster than any other sector and had the highest percentage of breaches in 2014.
Why is this important, you ask? Think about the information contained in your patient information files: your full name, home address, date of birth, phone numbers, and the all-important Social Security number. We also provide insurance information and financial information so payment for medical treatment can be processed. In essence, we provide a veritable goldmine of personal information to healthcare providers, which if hacked, could easily provide a gateway for criminal use of our most important information.
Adam Levin, author of the new book Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers and Identity Thieves, calls medical data breaches “life-threatening”. Our medical files contain all of our private medical information that could put our lives at risk if it ended up in the hands of a cybercriminal. For example, critical medical information such as drug allergies and blood type could be changed if our medical information is hacked rendering us vulnerable to a medical emergency or death. What if you need life-saving surgery and a criminal has already used your insurance to secure the same surgery? You could be denied the surgery you need while sorting out the medical identity theft.
Levin says it’s important to raise awareness of the threat of medical identity theft, and there are a number of things to watch out for to determine if your medical information has been hacked:
The key to reducing the threat of medical identity theft is to be vigilant of the warning signs and to take action immediately if the threat arises.
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