The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) has released its Security Breach Report, providing insight into breaches that led to medical ID theft from 2009 until 2014.
Agency spokeswoman Juliana Harris told South Carolina Radio Network the number of people who had personal information breached was high, despite a comparatively low number of incidents. “There weren’t a whole lot of them, but the amount of people affected was the most out of any sector,” Harris said. She said SCDCA received 165 security breach notices affecting more than 7 million South Carolina residents.
Harris said that many people do not recognize when they are victims of medical ID theft. She said if you get a medical bill or an explanation of benefits from your insurance company, you may be the victim.
She said information released in the most recent breaches contain personal information. “Lost in these breaches includes insurance information, information about your doctor or when you received a procedure,” Harris said. Though the information compromised could simply be name and credit card number, it is often much more revealing. In some cases laptops containing specific information on a consumer’s procedure including date, insurance information, doctor, prescription information, etc. were reported stolen.
One of the largest breaches occurred in Greenwood last year, when officials at Self Regional Healthcare discovered burglars had taken a laptop containing the personal information of nearly 39,000 patients.
Medical identity theft involves someone stealing a consumer’s information to obtain medical benefits in their name. This could result in the consumer not being eligible for necessary treatments or even being misdiagnosed due to inaccurate medical records created by the thief’s medical treatment.
Harris said staying vigilant can help a consumer avoid and detect medical identity theft.
· a bill for medical services you didn’t receive
· a call from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe
· medical collection notices on your credit report that you don’t recognize
· a notice from your health plan saying you reached your benefit limit
· a denial of insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.