With an estimated two million victims each year, medical identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of identity theft. Even though the media focuses primarily on patients as potential victims, medical identity theft can have extremely damaging implications for physicians. Los Angeles-based internist Anne Peters learned the hard way…
In 2006, Peters received several phone calls from patients she never treated. An international crime ring had stolen her medical credentials and set up shop under her name, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. It took Peters six years and countless hours to clear her name. Today, she is high in demand as a speaker on medical identity theft prevention and helps raise awareness among her colleagues.
Physicians should work with patients and employees to help prevent and detect medical ID theft. Here are 4 preventive measures to reduce the risk of medical identity theft:
1. Pay attention to claims and payments from patients you’ve never treated. Follow up and don’t just assume it’s a mistake, especially if it happens more than once.
2. Review your Medicare remittance notice, and watch out for listed services you’ve never performed or payments you never received.
3. Do routine checks of your Medicare provider’s enrollment to see if any other practices have been set up with your Medicare identifier.
4. Check your credit reports for accounts you don’t recognize. If you see accounts you didn’t open, or debts on your accounts that you can’t explain, follow up and contact the bureau.
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