10 Years of Data Breaches: Nothing to Celebrate for Victims of Medical Identity Theft
Article on July 22, 2013
Data breaches first appeared just 10 years ago when certain states enacted legislation that required the public disclosure of data breaches impacting consumers. Now they’re part of the consumer vocabulary. That’s no surprise, given that breaches affect the financial and physical health of consumers. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., according to the FBI; an identity is stolen every 3 seconds, a recent Javelin Study found. This infographic, A Decade of Data Breach, provides a snapshot of identity theft and data breach over the last decadeand isavailable here: http://www2.idexpertscorp.com/a-decade-of-data-breach/
Financial identity theft has become well understood in the U.S. over those 10 years and protecting consumers from harm has become an industry. But what is not well understood is that one of the fastest-growing trends in ID theft is medical identity theft, affecting over 2 million people in the U.S. in 2011.
With its serious health risks, medical identity theft is far more dangerous than consumer or financial fraud. For instance, when a victim’s medical records are merged with a thief using the same identity, that record becomes “polluted.” The victim may be denied treatment or be misdiagnosed based on this inaccurate information. In addition, patients may be denied life insurance or billed for services not rendered. A few real-world examples illustrate the dangers:
Healthcare organizations have a moral obligation to step up their privacy and security efforts to safeguard personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI). And legislators need to update their thinking about data breaches and identity theft. It is not just consumers’ wallets and reputations we need to protect, it is the personal wellbeing of that consumer as well.