If you’ve been reading our blog, you know that medical identity theft is a continuing problem. Your medical data is far more valuable than your financial data. On top of that, it can take months for you to realize that your medical data has been compromised. Combine that with the fact that medical data thieves aren’t often caught or persecuted and you have a perfect scenario for stealing.
This type of crime continues to evolve alongside the technology used in the medical industry. We’ve gathered some chilling statistics to help you understand how often medical identity theft really happens, and how you can use that information to protect yourself.
What is my medical identity worth?
Your medical identity is worth 20-50 times more than your financial information. On average, a thief can sell a medical record from $250-$1,000. Your credit card number, on the other hand, is only worth about $5. The difference in black market pricing is largely due to medical identity theft being that much harder to identify and track—if your financial identity is stolen, on the other hand, your bank or financial institution will usually be quick to detect it.
Even when medical identity theft is discovered and stopped, victims are often left on the hook for whatever bills the thief racked up under their name. They end up owing an average of $13,500. The total economic impact of these thefts is estimated to add up to $41 billion per year.
The financial element isn’t the worst part, though. A full 20% of victims face incorrect diagnoses and treatments because their records have been stolen and altered.
How often does medical identity theft occur?
To really grasp how bad the situation is getting, let’s look back at the last couple of years. Hackers got their hands on 7.7 million medical records in the first half of 2020. Unfortunately, that number more than doubled in the second half of the year, as thieves obtained an additional 21.3 million medical records. That’s a 177% increase.
The trend has continued. From November of 2020 through the end of October 2021, over 39 million records were stolen. In 2021 alone—again, through the end of October—the industry saw the theft of 34.5 million records. That’s more than all of 2020 put together.
How can I protect myself?
The sad truth of the matter is that these thefts are likely to continue, particularly as data thieves continue to ramp up operations. It is not “if,” but “when” the next data breach happens, according to those in the know—85% of healthcare IT professionals surveyed by security provider Armis believe the risk of cyberattack has increased in 2021.
The best way to protect your medical identity is to understand the warning signs of theft: strange medical bills, Explanations of Benefits, and diagnoses you don’t recall receiving. Victims often miss these signs because they don’t know what to look for—and that’s where HealthLock can step in. Our powerful AI technology audits every medical transaction that occurs in your name, so that we can spot signs of theft before they reach the levels described above.
Your medical identity is valuable. Make sure you’re locking it down with HealthLock.