Definition

medical identity theft

Medical identity theft is the illegal access and use of someone’s personally identifiable information to fraudulently obtain medical service, prescription drugs or medical insurance coverage.

As with general identity theft, the types of information stolen can include name and social security number. Medical identity theft often involves medical insurance numbers, medicare numbers or patient or physician identification numbers, which may be used directly or sold on the black market. Stolen medical identities are often used to obtain addictive prescription medications. In other cases, it may be used by those with medical credentials to bill for services never provided.

Victims may receive bills for drugs, services or insurance they did not receive, which can impact their credit rating and insurance costs.  The perpetrators' actions can also impact victims' medical records, potentially resulting in conflicting information that affects their prescriptions and diagnosis.

According to the World Privacy Forum and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, medical identity theft makes up at least 1 percent of all fraud.

This was last updated in January 2014
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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