Tuesday, January 19, 2021

New Tool Helps Protect Public From Identity Theft

 

Remember the days when protecting your personal and financial information meant watching out for pickpockets and purse-snatchers? In today’s technology-driven world, thieves have developed much more cunning and sophisticated ways to steal your identity.

Despite severe penalties – those convicted face up to 20 years in prison – identity theft is now the nation’s fastest-growing crime, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. More than 10 million people become victims of identity theft each year.

Thieves not only use their victims’ identities to open bank and credit card accounts, they also rent or buy property, commit other crimes and misdemeanors and even obtain employment in their victims’ names.

A credit report can let you know if someone has used your credit card without your knowledge or applied for a credit card in your name. It doesn’t show everything, however. According to Harold Kraft, founder and chief executive officer of MyPublicInfo Inc., credit reports miss the most critical information. What you need, Kraft says, is a background check on yourself.

“Over a year ago, I had an unusual opportunity to run a background check on myself. I was curious to find out what potential employers, landlords, insurance companies and others could learn about average citizens like me,” Kraft said. “I was staggered to receive 55 pages of data on the last 30 years of my life! This was not a credit check, but a background check, with information not available in my credit report.”

For about $80, MyPublicInfo provides consumers with a Public Information Profile, or PIP, a detailed summary of the information – gleaned from billions of public data records, including federal, state and county records; government license records; and law enforcement records – that others can obtain about them.

Although some of this information is available to the public, the average person would have to comb through data from thousands of sources to find all of it. The PIP consolidates the data into one easy-to-understand report. According to MyPublicInfo, this is the only tool of its kind currently available to consumers.

“Every time we buy a house, buy an insurance policy, make an insurance claim, open a utility account with a power company, get married, borrow money … or are involved in any public transaction, it becomes part of our permanent personal background records,” Kraft said. “This information can have serious consequences for a person’s ability to get a job or insurance. And erroneous information may mean you have been a victim of mistaken identity or an identity crime.”

Friday, January 15, 2021

How to Inform Patients About Identity Theft

 

Informing patients about identity theft risk is not a strict legal requirement but not informing them could lead to serious consequences, not only for the individual involved but also for the hospital or clinical practitioner who decided not to inform the patients of identity theft risk. In this article we will look at a number of ideas to help you establish how, when and whether you should inform your patients about the possible risk of identity theft.

The first principle which you should always try to stick to is one of data security. Hopefully with proper security systems in place the need to inform patients about breaches in this security will be minimal. Data security involves systems such as secure passwords on all your computers, data encryption, anti-spyware software and any other security measures which your IT specialists may suggest. If these security measures are strictly adhered to and staff are trained in these and the importance of data privacy then informing patients about identity theft risk should only happen on the very rare occasion.

Some people feel that by informing patients too often of the risk of identity theft that they will become de-sensitized to the risk, however, if you have correct security systems in place you will hopefully not need to do it too often, and it is important that if there is a real risk of identity theft that the patients are informed of this risk in order to take precautionary measures.

If the risk is high in a certain case of breach of security then it important that patients are informed of the risk of identity theft in a timely manner and they should also be informed of what the hospital is doing in order to catch the suspect and prevent further harm from being done.

It would also be a good idea in these circumstances to provide guidance for patients concerned as to what measures they should be taking in order to protect themselves – such as contacting the credit bureaus, creditors and other parties.

Informing patients about identity theft risk is not a strict legal requirement; however, if hospitals are found negligent in this then the consequences could be severe and amount to millions of dollars in fines. The consequences for the patients involved could also be severe, not only in terms of financial risk but also in terms of personal health information that could land in the wrong hands. All data security measures should be in place long before this need ever arises but if there is a serious risk of identity theft occurring then patients should be informed in a timely manner and given guidance as to how they ought to proceed with protecting themselves and what the hospital is doing in this regard.

Take the time to protect your identity so that you too won’t have to suffer through the loss. If you pay bills on line make sure you only use secure sites to do so. With so many great firewalls and computer programs such as Norton’s anti-virus it is tough to break down such security systems in place.