When most people think of identity theft, they only imagine the financial implications of someone opening up credit cards or writing bad checks. However, there is a whole world of ways that these creative thieves can use a victim's personal information. One of those ways is medical identity theft and even within this subset of crime there are even more typed of crimes to be committed. One of those is what is called financial identity theft.
Examples of this type of fraud would include a hospital or a doctor billing you for medical services given to another person. The thief may or may not have a copy of your private insurance card. Here are the following steps you should take if you believe you have become a victim of this particular crime.
- Contact the billing department of the medical facility or doctor requesting payment. If you are receiving this notice from a collection agency, then contact the collection agency first. Explain that this is a case of identity theft or mistaken identity. If the billing department is reluctant to help, then contact the attending doctor, or the medical facility's fraud or legal department.
- Ask what proof they have that this person is you. There is almost always a physical description of the patient. Does it match you? You might be able to show that your height, weight, skin color, age, blood type, or sex is not the same as the "patient."
- Ask when service was provided. You might be able to prove you were somewhere else during that period.
- What service was provided? If surgery was done or a condition was diagnosed, you might be able to prove you don't have a scar or that condition.
- Ask if your Social Security Number (SSN) was used or just a name and address. If your SSN was used, you will need to follow the information in ITRC Fact Sheet 100 - Financial Identity Theft: the Beginning Steps and check your credit reports. This thief may be affecting your credit status in other ways. They may be opening new lines of credit or leaving other collection actions behind.
- Ask if this person used your medical insurance card or number. If so, contact your insurance company and report the problem. Ask for a new number on the replacement card. They may also have a fraud department that tracks cases.
- File a police report in your city and state of residence. You are a victim of a crime. At your earliest opportunity, obtain a copy of the police report.
- Send copies of your affidavit of fraud, the police report, any other supporting documentation proving identity theft to the medical billing department and any additional collection agencies which may be involved. Please remember to mail this documentation certified, return receipt requested.
- Once the provider agrees this is a case of fraud or identity theft, get that agreement in writing and keep it in a safe place forever. This is called a Letter of Clearance.
While this seems like an overwhelming amount of activity to clear your name, it is not. It will be difficult and you will be angry that this has happened to you, but it can be rectified. If at any time you need additional help or have questions you can always call the Identity Theft Resource Center at 888.400.5530 to speak with a live Victim Advisor who is trained to help you through this process. There is also additional information on the Identity Theft Resource Center's website which may be helpful.