Medical Identity Theft: What Are The Reasons For This Fraud Crime? What Are Your Risks?

Medical identity theft is one of the fraud crimes that has increased over the past years in the United States. According to the Ponemon Institute 1.84 million people were victims of medical identity theft in 2013 with an estimated total cost of $28,6 billion.

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It is illegal to use a person’s identity or personal health information to receive health care services. Some people intentionally commit fraud against “themselves” by allowing uninsured people to use their health insurance to obtain care. This is called “Robin Hood” crimes and it constituted 30% of medical ID theft in 2013.

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There are different reasons for stealing someone else’s medical identity:

  • obtain prescription drugs to sell them
  • get free treatment
  • falsify or inflate treatment claims

 

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FBI – Frauds From A to Z

The FBI has just recently released a revised list of frauds on their web page entitled: Frauds From A to Z.  The topics covered range from Adoption Scams and Credit Card Fraud to Insurance and Internet Fraud.  For most categories, the FBI website provides both an overview of the fraud itself and tips for how to avoid being caught up in the fraud.

EXAMPLE:  Lottery Fraud

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is a fraud.  Americans are defrauded out of $120 million annually in Lottery Scams.

Here are a few examples of how the schemes work:

  • You receive a call, an e-mail, or a letter telling you that you’ve won a large sum of money in a foreign lottery you don’t remember entering. To claim your “winnings,” you’ll have to provide your bank account number so your winnings may be deposited into your account.
  • You’re told you’ve won a sizable lottery and are asked to wire a few thousand dollars to a “customs agent” to cover duties and taxes. But after wiring the money, you’re contacted again and told you must send even more money to collect your prize.
  • You receive a congratulatory letter in the mail along with a check for $5,000. You’re instructed to cash the check, then wire a portion of the funds to a foreign address to cover taxes and fees, keeping the remaining money as your “lottery winnings.” A few days after doing so, your bank notifies you that the check was counterfeit and you now must repay it the $5,000.