What Happens If Medical Records Are Stolen? As Breaches Become More Common, Be In The Know

Health care data breaches soared to record-breaking levels in 2023, fueled by a surge in ransomware attacks and increased targeting of the third-party vendors hospitals and other health care providers use.

Exposure of protected health information and personally identifiable information can put patients at risk of identity theft or insurance fraud.

“Be careful not to share sensitive information over e-mail, text messages or other communication paths that might not be so secure,” said Errol Weiss, chief security officer at the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

Here are steps you can take if your personal health data has been exposed, according to guidance by the Federal Trade Commission.

How do you know if your data has been breached?

Federal law requires health care organizations to report to Health and Human Services any security breaches that expose patient information. Search by company name, breach type or company location to see if your health information has been compromised. Don’t see a searchable database? Click here.

What to do if your health data has been compromised

1. Enroll in identity and credit monitoring services 

Contact the three major nationwide credit bureaus if your Social Security number has been stolen. Federal law allows you to obtain a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Review your credit reports for any unauthorized accounts or inquiries and report any suspicious activity to the credit reporting company.

Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to order your free annual credit reports. You can also call 1-877-322-8228 or send in a request form by mail.

2. Look for signs of medical identity theft  

Be on the alert for bills for medical services you didn’t receive. Contact your insurance provider right away if you notice fraudulent charges or debts. If the charges involve Medicare or Medicaid coverage, file a report online or call 1-800-HHS-TIPS.

3. Report suspicious activity 

If you find suspicious activity on your credit reports, contact your local law enforcement agency and file a police report. Keep a copy of the police report, as it may be required by creditors to clear you of any fraudulent debts.

You may also file an identity theft report with the FTC and report any phishing messages or calls using your stolen medical information to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.


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