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Identity Theives Targeting Medical Information

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As reported in the January 8, 2007, edition of BusinessWeek, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission estimates that 250,000 Americans had their medical identities stolen or misused over the last several years, and medical identity theft is a growing problem.

The report states that while many consumers believe that those stealing personal information for medical use are in dire need of health care, the thieves can also be doctors interested in earning greater profits. Law enforcement officials note that crime rings are also getting involved by setting up elaborate clinic schemes and garnering hefty health insurance reimbursements before disassembling and disappearing.

According to the article, consumer advocates are concerned that health identity fraud will increase as more and more providers shift to electronic records, but providers claim that software accompanying these electronic records will limit health care fraud by identifying unusual activity. However, medical information provided by thieves could show up in multiple databases and put individuals at risk when they need care. Unlike financial fraud victims, medical identity theft victims have very few options when restoring their medical records.

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