The New York Times ran a story over the weekend about medical identity theft. They used Brandon Sharp’s story as an example and ran the story in the paper’s health section.
Medical identity theft stories can be found in just about any section of a newspaper: health, crime or finance—even obituaries--because medical ID theft can affect so many areas of its victims’ lives.
Sharp enjoyed good health and good credit until he became an identity tehft victim. Now he medical services accounts in collections, including a $19,000 charge for Life Flight air ambulance service. There are several more charges for emergency room visits in cities he’s never visited.
Besides wreaking havoc on victims’ credit score, some ID thieves use victims’ identity when arrested. Once out on bond, they skip their court dates, which results in an arrest warrant for the ID theft victim and sometimes multiple arrests. With a record like that, it’s all but impossible to get a job.
Anndorie Sachs learned she was a medical ID theft victim when authorities called to tell her that her newborn baby tested positive for methamphetamine. The next day a child services worker came to her home to take away her four children.
Sachs’ purse was stolen from her car months before, and her identity used in an emergency room by a woman who gave birth to a sickly baby girl and then abandoned her. Sachs was left with a $10,000 hospital bill, a criminal record and a legal fight that went on for years.
Sachs still worries the fraud may have introduced dangerous—even deadly--errors into her medical records. Incorrect entries about blood type, current medications or drug allergies could cost medical identity theft victims more than their good credit—it could cost them their lives.