Identity theft is becoming very easy due to technological advancements. Protecting patient information must include all efforts from medical facilities, employees, and consumers. Society has the right to be protected from any misuse of personal data. An effective protective program starts with front-end preventive safeguards and ends with follow-through that reaches wherever incorrect information has flowed Identity theft has become a very popular topic for the past decade or so, the number of complaints has increased and is costing more than anyone wants to be spending on that issue.
The Federal Trade commission estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identity stolen each year, resulting in over 50 billion dollars of financial loss (Mercuri, 2006). Very common on Television to hear news and commercials warning about identity theft or some company trying to sell their services, helping in the fight to prevent it. In this paper, there will be discussions on the disadvantages of the break in privacy dealing with identity theft and on possible action plan to prevent the incident.
What are your Reactions?
Identity theft is a fraud that occurs when one identity is taken away and used in order to gain services or something usually of financial nature. Criminal identity theft occurs when a victim’s name, address, and mostly social security number is used by a different individual other than the actual owner. Oftentimes, the imposter would obtain that information from someone with access to a data bank where personal information is stored; it may be a hospital, social security department, company that collects data for the purpose of providing financial services. The information may be sold and used to open accounts, gain access to services fraudulently, which the actual owner, a victim of the theft will be charged for. Though many have tried to find ways to prevent and fight that kind of invasion of privacy, it remains an issue and a very expensive one. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in United States; it affects 13 persons per minute, 799 per hour, or 19,178 per day (Mercuri, 2006).
When it comes to personal identity theft, elaborate steps must be taken to repair identity, all creditors and banks must be contacted in order to freeze accounts and limit the damages. Any financial activities that were not approved should be reversed and investigated and any opened accounts closed. New identification cards should be provided, depending on the extent of the situation legal counseling may be necessary. Whichever way it happens, identity theft remains a burden for all not only individuals, but also for companies who carry the burden of screening employees in order to protect their customers from such occurrence. No one would welcome such calamity, not only the loss of privacy, the financial burden, but more so the trauma of not being able to prevent it completely.
What are the Disadvantages of the Break in Privacy?
The disadvantages of the break in privacy are for the hospital as well as the victims. Big corporations are kept accountable for all data collected from their clients and are liable for any misuse of that information no matter the use. Personal information are trusted to be used for an individual benefits in the process securing a service; it should not be sold or used without consent for others benefits. Once information has been compromised, it is the duty of the corporation which allows the break to occur to remedy the problem. Remediation can be very costly, the company is liable for the break, cause – analysis is necessary to find the leak and establish preventive measures. Which involves retraining personnel and maybe adding more doing the hiring, better screening process; make every one accountable for work involvement. It is a costly process but necessary. It is a federal offense and as an HIPAA violation all perpetrators will be fined, it is a mandate. Victims of identity fraud bear the burden of regaining their identity and find any measure to prevent future occurrence.
Such fraud creates a financial burden, all major federal instutions such as social security department, internal revenue services, banks and creditors must be informed of the fraudulent act before identity can be restored. All activities under the victim name must be verified and investigated, that will require to work with the fraud departments of all banks where accounts was opened or compromised. It can be very costly not only to restore identity, but also mostly once the damages are discovered it will take a lot of time and money to correct the wrong done. The federal trade commission must be contacted; they collect information that is shared with law enforcement agency investigating identity fraud. Consumer Credit reporting agencies must be informed and a credit reports requested to investigate whether the victim history has been compromised.
The motor vehicle and passport agency must be contacted as well, in such a case all possible areas must investigated for possible damages. It takes time and resources to correct break in privacy. Medical identity theft may be very difficult to discover, an individual my not have any idea that he or she has been the victim until late and the damages result in a mounts of debts and loss of revenue for providers and insurers. One victim hired an attorney to sort out the damage to her records. She avoided the hospital where the identity thief was treated, because of the inaccuracies in her health record as a result of the medical identity theft (AHIMA, 2008).
What are the Possible Actions Plans to prevent the Incident?
Preventing any incident requires individuals as well as corporations to be very diligent in safeguarding personal data. It requires a team effort on the part of all parties, corporations must be willing to put in place the necessary resources in the respect, although the first line of defense rest with the individuals seeking services. Some of the preventive measures include, but not limited to: Share personal and health insurance information only with trusted providers. * Monitor the explanation of benefits received from insurers and obtaining a summary of all the benefits paid in the patient’s or guarantor’s name. * Question “free” medical services or treatments. Individuals should always question what is being offered and who is paying the cost. If not satisfied with the answers, they should decline the offer. * Protect health insurance information. Individuals should safeguard insurance cards, explanation of benefits, and health plan correspondence in the same way they would safeguard credit cards. * Obtain and maintaining personal health records that include copies of significant health information from each healthcare provider (O’Brien, 2008).
Furthermore it is very important that every hospitals or any corporations having access to individuals personal data, to empower every consumer to be very diligent about personal data. It is necessary educate the public about the threat of identity theft. Increase awareness of the consequences and prevention measures. Institute sophisticated security monitoring measures and implement a broadly accepted, executive-supported information security charter for effective security policy and governance (American Health Management Association, [AHIMA], 2008). HIPAA rules require that a risk analysis of any system be conducted that would address administrative, technical and physical safeguards.
HIPAA security rule does not focus on technology but administration (American Health Management Association, [AHIMA], AHIMA, 2008). It requires that any data collected of consumers be protected according to its security rule. Corporations must develop guidelines that protect consumers, but also that would minimize employee’s incidents of mismanagement of data. The process should start from hiring, to training and setting up steps that would raise red flags with any questionable occurrence.
Medical identity theft is becoming very complex and must involve the effort of all consumers, providers and insurers to battle and prevent occurrences. Consumer involvement is very important and necessary, they must be made aware of the threat to their privacy and educate on ways to prevent any occurrence. The public deserves to be protected from any mismanagement of personal data, it incumbents on every corporation to put in place process that safeguards all data collected. An effective protective program starts with front-end preventive safeguards and ends with follow-through that reaches wherever incorrect information has flowed (American Health Management Association, [AHIMA], 2008).
American Health Management Association, [AHIMA]. “Online, On Message, On Duty: Privacy Experts Share Their Challenges.” April 2008. Available online in the FORE Library: HIM Body of Knowledge at www.ahima.org. American Health Management Association, [AHIMA] e-HIM Work Group on Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). “Using the SSN as a Patient Identifier.” Journal of AHIMA 77, no. 3 (Mar. 2006): 56A–D. Retrieved from www.ahima.org
Mercuri, R. T. (2006, June). Security Watch: Scoping identity theft. Communications of the ACM, Retrieved from: www.citeseerx.ist.psu.edu O’Brien, Jenny. “Responding to Identity Theft: One Organization’s Effort to Turn a Negative Event into a Positive Result.” Journal of AHIMA 79, no. 4 (Apr. 2008): 40–41. Retrieved from www.ahima.org