When top state law enforcement officers gather in Maui for the annual three-day convention of the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) July 19-22, a critical component of the discussion will be the need to curb the burgeoning problem of medical identity theft.
The western attorneys general should give cybersecurity the serious attention it deserves, if for no other reason that it is growing fastest in their front yard, the Pacific and Western region of our country. According to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance's (MIFA) Fifth Annual Study of Medical Identity Theft, the Pacific-West region saw its share of the nation's medical identity theft cases rise to 17 percent of the nation's total in fiscal 2014, up from just 11 percent two years earlier. The corresponding shares in the other five regions of the nation's total number of medical identity theft cases either held steady or were up or down only slightly.
Earlier this year, an estimated 18,000 current and former members of the Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state's largest health insurer, discovered their personal information had been stolen during a cyberattack on Anthem Inc., a Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan that serves residents of 14 states. According to the MIFA study, medical identity theft nationally rose nearly 22 percent in the previous year, an increase of nearly a half-million victims since 2013. In 2014 alone, medical ID theft cost consumers more than $20 billion in out-of-pocket costs.
All forms of identity theft (e.g., bank account fraud and credit card fraud) can be costly to those who fall victim to it, but medical identity theft potentially can be life-threatening as well. Continue reading at the Maui News....
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