The Growing Problem of Medical Identity Theft in America
Medical identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, and although it’s a worldwide problem, it seems to be hitting America especially hard. In fact, nearly 1.5 million Americans have been victims of medical identity theft – a statistic with an estimated total cost of $28.6 billion, which works out to about $20,000 per victim. The credit restoration process for something like that is especially painful, as it affects several parts of each person’s life.
For one, it doesn’t just affect the victim’s credit; it also affects the victim’s medical history, too. Since no credit repair company can adjust a person’s medical records, the fradulent charges end up costing more than just money. Victims of medical identity theft often have a difficult time getting health insurance due to “pre-existing conditions,” regardless of whether or not the “conditions” were actually their own.
Since a credit repair company can’t use the credit restoration process to fix the problems caused by medical theft, the only real course of action people can take are preventative. Here are some ideas that can help you avoid the credit restoration process and forever damaged medical records:
• Invest in a credit protection service. Sure, it’ll cost a few dollars each month, but having somebody watching out for your credit and health history could be well worth the money. Plus, it could save you from having to pay a credit repair company for credit restoration.
• Shred everything that has your information on it. Even if it seems like a benign letter, if it has your name, address or phone number on it, identity thieves can use it to steal your medical or financial identity. Don’t risk throwing papers directly into the trash – always shred them first.
• Monitor your credit report. You can check all three of your credit reports for free, once a year. Be sure to inspect yours closely, and dispute any errors immediately.