I remember 10 years ago when I was first introduced to the concept of identity theft. Nobody even knew what it was, myself included, until two weeks after my initial training my personal checking account was hijacked by an identity thief.
Ten years later, I continue to be surprised by how little the public really understands about the topic. Most think it‘s strictly about your credit. But there’s a much bigger picture people need to know about.
Criminal identity theft is a little-known problem that can really hinder a job search. This form of identity theft involves someone using your name and identifying information to commit a crime. As background checks become more common in the hiring process, identity theft can become a major stumbling block to getting hired.
I have friends who were denied employment due to criminal identity theft. None of them knew about it beforehand, and, if they had not inquired to find out why they did not receive the job – they might not have known it then either. One friend spent 129 days in jail because of the criminal activities of an identity thief. It has taken her a decade to clear her name.
Identity theft involving our healthcare records is the newest major threat. The 2015 Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, found that 91% of the healthcare organizations they surveyed had between one and 5 data breaches in the last 2 years.
Cases of medical identity theft reached 2.3 million in 2014. Medical identity theft happens when an imposter walks into a clinic or hospital using your name and identifying information. Your medical records can be altered with diseases you don’t have, and critical data such as your blood type can be changed. In a trauma situation, this incorrect data can become life threatening.
How would you know if you were a victim of criminal or medical identity theft?
Watch out for these:
- Being denied employment or access to any activity that required a background check. Make sure you inquire as to the reason for the denial.
- Being stopped by a police officer, and you’re not sure why. Be sure to ask. Unknown outstanding arrest warrants are a possibility!
- Receiving an “explanation of benefits” notice from your insurance carrier, or a bill for a healthcare provider. If you haven’t had any healthcare procedures, investigate immediately!
- HIPAA laws can deny you access to your own records once somebody else has their information in them! You may need assistance from an attorney.
- An increase in health insurance premiums due to a condition you do not have!
- A drop in your credit score for non-payment of a doctor or hospital bill you know nothing about!
If you prefer working through the issue yourself, you can find helpful information by going to identitytheft.gov.
The best resolution for these situations is to have a comprehensive identity theft protection program in place, which includes private investigator services, before an incident happens. To communicate with an experienced identity protection specialist, email your first/last name, contact #, and best time for us to contact you to info. Make sure to mention this article.
By: Sheyenne Kreamer