The warning signs someone is using your personal info

Increase in hospital system hacks, Medical ID theft warning

(AP Photo/Don Petersen, File) (Associated Press)

Notices are being sent out now to many Houston hospital patients that their personal information was part of a major data breach. This is happening at two different hospital systems. Harris Health System and HCA Healthcare have both had issues with hackers getting patient’s personal information. Investigator Amy Davis explains what you need to know about Medical ID theft and how to spot the signs your info is already being used.

What to do if you get a letter about your information involved in data breach

If you get a data breach warning notice don’t just ignore it or wait for something to happen.

Harris Health System patients notified about data breach. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Your medical information is gold to scammers. The first thing you should do is change the passwords for all of your accounts. Medical ID theft can be hard to spot right away but there are signs.

“So, you will receive an increasing number of calls that you didn’t expect it to and an increasing number of emails,” said Ricardo Villadiego, CEO and founder of Lumu, “Those are the two main signs that your data was compromised.”

[RELATED: How the recession plays a role in the increase of data theft]

Signs of medical ID theft

Here are some warning signs from the FTC that someone is using your medical information.

  • You get a bill from your doctor for services you didn’t get.
  • You notice errors in your Explanation of Benefits statement like services you didn’t get or prescription medications you don’t take.
  • You get a call from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe.
  • You review your credit report and see medical debt collection notices that you don’t recognize.
  • You get a notice from your health insurance company saying you reached your benefit limit.
  • You are denied insurance coverage because your medical records show a pre-existing condition you don’t have.

You can do a few things to protect yourself from medical ID theft.

  • Destroy medical documents you don’t need.
  • Take the labels off prescription bottles you might toss.
  • Review your credit reports to check for any medical debts.
  • Give your own medical records a closer look.

There is no central source for checking all of your medical records, so you’ll need to contact each provider you do business with like doctors, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and laboratories. HIPPA rules give you the right to copies of these records even though some providers may try to tell you otherwise. If you think your information is compromised there are a few things you can do now.

What to do if someone is using your medical information

1. Get your credit reports. Get your free credit reports from the three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.Com or call 1-877-322-8228.

2. Review your credit reports. Look for medical billing errors, like medical debt collection notices that you don’t recognize.

3. Report errors. Report any medical billing errors to all three credit bureaus by following the “what to do next” steps on identitytheft.Gov.

MORE ON ID THEFT: In this episode of Ask Amy, we go over everything you need to know about ID theft.

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.