The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a frequently asked questions guide to medical identity theft for health care providers and insurers. The guide states that medical identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s name or insurance information to get medical treatment, prescription drugs or surgery, or when dishonest people working in a medical setting use another person’s information to submit false bills to insurance companies. Like traditional identity theft, medical identity theft can affect a victim’s finances, but it can also lead to improper treatment.

The guide focuses on the steps providers and insurers should take when their patients are “victims” of medical identity theft by answering the following questions:

  • How would people know if they’re victims of medical identity theft?
  • What should a provider or insurer do if it learns that a patient may be a victim of medical identity theft?
  • What should a provider or insurer tell a patient who’s a victim of medical identity theft?
  • How can providers and insurers help their patients deter, detect, and defend against medical identity theft?

The information in the guide is helpful in assisting providers when their patients are, or at risk of becoming, victims of medical identity theft. The guide leaves unanswered what providers should do when their own patients are, or the provider suspects they may be, the perpetrators of medical identity theft.