Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

        Money | Taxes

5
Check Your Health Records
If your health record contains information that doesn’t pertain to you, that’s a red flag. ©Thinkstock
If your health record contains information that doesn’t pertain to you, that’s a red flag. ©Thinkstock

While your credit card information and social security number go for only about $5 on the black market, your medical identity can sell for much more, upwards of $50 [sources: Dockterman, McCarthy]. Instead of stealing your financial information, thieves steal your medical identity to take advantage of your health benefits for medical treatment, prescriptions and medical equipment. And nearly 2 million Americans were victims in 2013, putting them at risk for large medical bills (for services they didn't have) as well as putting incorrect information into their medical files. This is problematic because you and your medical identity thief may not have the same blood type, for instance, putting you at risk next time you have surgery [source: Ponemon Institute].

Now that you're checking your credit report at least annually, you should also be reviewing your medical and prescription records for any suspicious activity and inaccuracies -- and reporting any mistakes or anything that seems fishy. And don't stop with just your medical reports. Pay attention to your medical bills and review any information your health insurance company sends to you, including those Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) that many of us dismiss. If there's an EOB for a service or treatment you didn't have, something's up. And while you want to keep your medical files and current health insurance information in a safe place, shred everything else, including forms, receipts, bills -- even the labels on your empty prescription bottles.