An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The computer data breaches with retailers such as Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels have gotten plenty of headlines.
But our private information is vulnerable in many places beyond the checkout line.
The Identity Theft Resource Center reported 619 data breaches for 2013, up 30 percent from the number in 2012. For the first time since the center began tracking these problems in 2005, the health-care sector reported the largest number of incidents, accounting for 43 percent of the breaches, compared with 33 percent from businesses.
Certainly one of the reasons is that health-care organizations often face mandatory reporting requirements.
But another reason is that our “medical identity” — name, Social Security number and health insurance number — can have so many lucrative uses.
For example, an Ohio dental office employee accessed protected Medicaid patient information to then illegally obtain prescription drugs, according to a recent report by the Stateline News Service. Using another angle, a Massachusetts psychiatrist used records to create false diagnoses and submit medical insurance claims for people he never treated.
In some cases, people stole medical identities to receive treatment.
“Medical identity theft is a growing and dangerous crime that leaves its victims with little to no recourse for recovery,” Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum told Stateline…