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Identity theft is the fraudulent use of individual personal information such as name, social security number, date of birth and/or account number. Thieves often use stolen identity to fraudulently open credit card accounts, write checks and open bank accounts.
Identity theft is not limited to the financial arena, however. Thieves also infiltrate the medical field. Researchers estimate that millions of Americans have had their medical information stolen and misused in recent years.
The identity theft perpetrator may be:
- A doctor hoping to pad his or her income.
- An individual in desperate need of medical care that he or she cannot otherwise afford.
- An individual addicted to prescription drugs.
- A crime ring stealing medical records including personal information, submitting bogus bills to insurance companies to collect payments and then disappearing.
Identity theft can affect your medical history, which may jeopardize your ability to receive future treatment, obtain life insurance or collect benefits payable by GEHA.
How to prevent identity theft
Notify GEHA if your purse or wallet is stolen. Guard your personal information.
- Protect your Social Security number; don't carry the card in your wallet.
- Shred any discarded medical information as you would a credit card or bank statements.
- Protect your personal information on your home computer with a strong password that includes numbers, letters and symbols.
- Don't give out your health insurance number online or to callers unless you initiated the contact.