Medical ID Theft Is Soaring, Security Expert Warns

Health care data breaches were on the increase in 2015. Find out why thieves find this information to be so valuable.

Medical ID Theft Is Soaring, Security Expert Warns Photo (cc) by DoNotLick

There’s nearly a 1 in 3 chance that your medical records were compromised in 2015, according to Caleb Barlow, vice president of IBM Security.

Barlow tells CNBC that retailers had their best year in the past five years in terms of information security. He says that it’s evidence that retailers are working hard to solve the problem with new security tools and technology like the chip and PINs.

In the health care sector, however, high-profile breaches of major insurance companies like Anthem and Blue Cross made headlines this year.

In fact, 100 million records were compromised by hackers, Barlow says. The current U.S. population is about 323 million. Barlow adds:

“This represents basically about 1 in 3 Americans have had their health care records compromised over the course of this year.”

The rise in medical identity theft is especially bad news for consumers. Barlow explains:

“It’s stuck with you for the rest of your life, so this information in the health care record could be used 20 years from now to establish credit, file a tax return on your behalf, or file a false medical claim.”

Medical data is also more valuable to hackers than financial data, according to the nonprofit Medical Identity Fraud Alliance.

While stolen credit cards sell for a few dollars on the black market, electronic health records sell for as much as $50.

To learn about how you can guard against medical identity theft, check out:

What steps have you taken to protect your medical records? Share your tips in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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