Wisconsin woman, Amira Avendano-Hernandez, sentenced to six months in prison for a liver transplant that saved her life but may have ruined someone else’s. She allegedly paid $1500 for a social security number in the black market belonging to a woman in Puerto Rico. Of course, the Puerto Rican woman had no clue she was a victim of medical identity theft until Avendano-Hernandez was caught. Now, Avendano-Hernandez is ordered to pay fines amassing $230,000 on top of prison time for a health care fraud charge.
According to a study on medical identity theft conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA):
Criminals can use your personal information to get health insurance in your name, obtain prescriptions, check into a hospital under your name to have surgeries or even give birth in some cases.
The out-of-pockets costs to victims has also grown, with twice as many victims experiencing financial costs to correct their medical identities and deal with the resulting problems.
Some of the repercussions that victims face include misdiagnosis, mistreatment and delayed healthcare.
So how can we stop medical identity theft in its tracks? Must there be a collection of medical data to keep track of everything like they do for credit reports?
The first and probably the most important thing to do is to check your medical records every now and then to assure that everything is up to date and accurate. You should also be aware that nearly 50% of medical identity theft cases involve family members as the perpetrator. Also, the chances of police investigating your personal case are small unless it involves a group of scammers.
It is wise to keep your personal information such as your health insurance card safe and away from criminals.
You never know if someone is telling the truth until you check. See for yourself.