Health Care Biggest Target of Identity Theft, Report Finds

About 43% of all reported identity thefts in the U.S. in 2013 were medical-related, according to a study released last month by the Identity Theft Resource Center, USA Today reports.

Medical identity theft refers to fraudulently obtaining personal data — such as names, Social Security numbers or health insurance numbers — to illegally gain access to medical services or devices, insurance reimbursements or prescription drugs (Ollove, USA Today, 2/7).

Report Findings

According to the report, in 2013:

  • Health care organizations experienced 267 breaches, or 43% of all breaches;
  • Businesses, including retailers, technology companies and others, experienced 210 breaches, or 34% of all breaches; and
  • Financial institutions experienced 23 breaches, or 3.7% of all breaches (Jayakumar, “Wonkblog,” Washington Post, 2/5).

The report found that thieves usually obtain information by:

  • Hacking into computer networks; or
  • Stealing laptops.

Between 27.8 million and 67.7 million individuals’ health records have been compromised since HHS began tracking data breaches in 2009 (USA Today, 2/7).


Sam Imandoust — a legal analyst at ITRC — said most identity thieves mine data for insurance records to purchase prescription drugs.

Imandoust also noted that one million medical records were reported stolen in 2013 but that the number is most likely much higher because some providers do not report breaches.

He noted that patient records are worth $50 to $500 each (Kim, “Marketplace,” American Public Media, 2/6).

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