The next cyber security target may be one you haven’t considered. Your medical data may not be as secure as it needs to be. Cyber criminals have long targeted stores to steal your credit/debit card information, but your doctor’s office may have even more financial information. They usually have numbers for your checking account, driver’s license, and Social Security. They also have your birth date and address for verification.
With all that information, criminals can open a checking account, credit card account, or get a consumer loan. Your medical data can be a virtual online store for hackers. If hackers sell your insurance information, someone else can use your medical plan causing you to pay for their treatment, and adding fraudulent diagnoses to your records. You could lose your insurance or credit.
Medical Record Security
Medical data often has poor cybersecurity. Medical offices often keep personal or financial information too long. Most of the medical data hackers are overseas and are never caught. They sell your records for about $50 and it could take you a year to get your credit repaired. This data theft is on the rise. According to the Ponemon Institute, 1.8 million people were victimized in 2013, up 20% from the previous year. Children and the elderly were often the victims.
Digital records are easier to steal than paper files. A whole filing cabinet of medical records will now fit easily on a thumb drive. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services records, 4.5 million patients from 29 hospitals had Social Security numbers by Chinese hackers. Although the company cooperated with regulators and offered help to affected consumers, the damage was done.
Personal Preventative Measures
Consumers should take personal responsibility for limiting the access to their personal and financial information. The key to most identity theft is having your Social Security Number. Many medical forms ask for this information, but it is not used. Ask if that information is absolutely required. Your date of birth and insurance policy information may suffice.
If your driver’s license number is required to check into a hospital, you have the legal right to have that number scrubbed from their records. Shred your old medical bills and records that have sensitive medical and financial information. Keep your current medical information in a secure location.
According to the Health and Human Services Department, consumers have the right to a copy of all their medical records and they should be reviewed at least once a year. If a theft occurs, contact doctors immediately to limit financial liability and protect your health data. Since medical data is the next big cyber security target, your data needs protection.