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Ask the Expert: How Can I Avoid Medical Identity Theft When Getting the Flu Shot?


With the Center for Disease Control suggestion of everyone ages 6 months and older to get a flu shot, clinics, grocery stores, and pharmacies are busy this time of year. Here are some tips from Experian's ProtectMyID to protect yourself against medical identity theft.

doctor with flu shotI'm planning on getting my flu shot at a local pharmacy this year rather than a doctor's office, but I'm worried about health identity theft. How can I prevent that from happening to me?

According to the latest Ponemon Institute Medical Identity Theft survey, medical identity theft reached an all-time high last year with nearly 2 million people becoming victims in the United States. Medical identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to get medical services such as treatment, health care items, or pharmaceuticals.

Grocery stores, drug stores, and other certified locations are busy this time of year offering flu shots because the Centers for Disease Control suggests everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot to protect themselves. If you plan on getting your flu shot at a local pharmacy, or even your doctor’s office, keep your medical information private, especially your health insurance identification card. Don’t leave any form of identification on a counter where others can see your insurance identification number. Watch the receptionist handle your information, and keep watch of your surroundings. And there is never any reason a health care provider should need your Social Security number. Any other form of ID should be sufficient. Check your medical records for accuracy on a regular basis, especially the Explanation of Benefits that you receive from your insurance company. Always check your medical bills to make sure they’re accurate, and if you notice a doctor you’ve never visited or a procedure you didn’t receive, contact your insurer at once.



It’s also a good idea to carefully monitor all of your financial statements and review your credit reports at least once per year. And if you go to a clinic that has you sign in with a computer, use a strong password—a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuation makes your passwords harder to crack.

—Experian’s ProtectMyID is a full-service provider of identity theft detection, protection, and fraud resolution solutions. For more information and other tips to protect your identity, visit protectmyid.com.

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