Medical identity theft is the misuse of a person’s identity to obtain health care goods and services. It is a growing crime as the trend towards electronic medical records gains momentum. Often the first time a victim gets wind of medical identity theft is when he or she receives a statement from an insurance company for services rendered. To help detect this type of theft, read all Explanation of Benefits statements you receive from your insurance company and contact the provider immediately if you see descriptions of services unrelated to your own health care. Also, watch for any unpaid medical claims on your credit report.

If you believe someone is using your health insurance, speak to your health insurance provider’s fraud department to report the misuse (the same should be done if you believe your health insurance card has been stolen). Removing the false information is just as important as clearing up any charges—insurance companies could charge you higher rates or reject you based on a medical identity thief’s health history. And information about the identity thief’s medical history, noted in charts as your own when the thief obtained medical care in your name, could lead to life-threatening mistakes in your medical care. This is especially true in an emergency situation when you may not be conscious or otherwise able to correct false information in your medical files. Before that happens, request your medical records and work to correct false information.