Identity theft is on the rise, and a prime target is insurance fraud. People steal your identity and insurance information, then have medical procedures done under your name. You don’t discover the fraud until you get a bill for whatever your insurance provider didn’t cover.
Other types of this fraud include doctors billing your insurance company for treatment you never received and pharmacists and nurses using your information to fill prescriptions (usually painkillers) for themselves or others. Your information can also be sold on the black market to people who set up phony clinics and file false medical claims to your insurance provider under your name.
No one is totally immune to a determined identity thief, but thieves go after easy marks. Don’t make yourself an easy mark. One of the best ways to guard yourself against this type of fraud is never give out your insurance card number or other personal information to anyone. It’s bad enough you have to give out this information at doctors’ offices, hospitals, and pharmacies. Often, that’s where the thieves first get hold of your information. Just because someone works for a doctor, hospital, or pharmacist, it doesn’t mean that person is ethical and honest.
Treat your insurance card with the same care you do your passport. If it’s stolen, report it immediately. Look closely at your Explanation of Benefits statements when they come. Make sure you recognize the doctor, date of treatment, and tests or procedures done. If not, call your insurance company immediately.
If you ever take part in free screening for blood pressure, diabetes, etc., never give out your insurance or personal information to the screeners. These screenings at pharmacies and street fairs are another prime spot for identity thieves to lurk.
Great advice, Sheila! Readers, post a comment to enter the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author this week.-- AP