As a victim of identity theft myself, I find it disappointing to see another example of the ugly part of technology innovation and what it can do when put in the hands of non-productive sociopaths of society. I also find it disheartening that now I must clarify that I was a victim of “financial identity theft” to differentiate between the now multiple types of identity theft that can befall one.

Say what now? Oh, was this news to you too? I was genuinely unaware of this type of fraud until it was broached as an interesting blog topic during discussion. In short, identity theft where the victim’s medical information is stolen and used to procure medical services, devices, and- of course-pharmaceuticals. It is also:

  • Potentially life threatening
  • Even if you don’t die, you could be left suffering debilitating side effects
  • On the rise (up to nearly 2 million Americans have become victims)
  • In all likelihood going to get worse as medical data leads sought-after PII

Financial identity theft and fraud can ruin one’s life on many different levels and is violating enough just to go through. Receiving incorrect and potentially lethal medical attention because someone thought they were perpetrating another “victimless crime” is a completely new level of disassociation with the repercussions of one’s actions that inflicts society today.

Where’s the money? Of course, there are costs associated with these types of attacks- if it wasn’t lucrative, it wouldn’t be popular. In 2013 alone, costs incurred by the victims themselves top $12.3 billion. That is a scary number to be associated with the American populace. Don’t forget that there are absolutely other economic impacts as well. Massive headlines that surround HIPAA violations damage corporate reputation… and therefore, the bottom line. Similarly, fines, corrective measures, and restitution round out the kicks a corporation- and its employees- likely endure when already taking a knee. Combined, that all adds up to lots of incidental spending that is pulled right out of an already recessed economy. Whether the top 1% or the bottom 1% perpetrates the money grubbing, the remaining 98% bare the brunt of the effects.

How’s it going down? The two most notable sources for this data include:

  • Social Engineering: calling victims themselves and posing as healthcare professionals and- vice versa- calling healthcare professionals and posing as the victim
  • System Compromises: attackers breach systems of health care providers, insurance agencies, and other HIPAA regulated industries that glean, aggregate, and grope such data

To prevent this new scourge from turning into an electronic epidemic, users need to be educated about the risks that concern both home and corporate environments in order to prevent more incidents from occurring- whether that exposure inflicts themselves at home or the customers they serve professionally.

References:

http://smartdatacollective.com/node/142411
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-insurance/articles/2013/09/17/aca-obamacare-beware-of-scams-when-buying-health-insurance 
http://www.kimatv.com/news/consumer/Medical-identity-theft-puts-lives-at-risk--223673901.html
http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/medical-identity-theft-to-cost-victims-over-12.3-billion-this-year.html

 

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