We're getting our medical data stolen, and most scammers are taking it straight from the hospitals themselves

If you’re trying to prevent ID theft, you may want to stay out of hospitals for awhile.

Digital consulting company Accenture says a quarter of Americans have had their medical information stolen. Of those who’ve had their data compromised, one-third of the breaches happened inside a hospital. Urgent care clinics were no exception, as one-in-five medical identity thefts happened there.

The data breaches also caused financial problems far beyond stolen credit card numbers. The report says victims had to pay roughly $2,500 in out-of-pocket costs for each incident of fraud.

“Health systems need to recognize that many patients will suffer personal financial loss from cyberattacks of their medical information,” says Reza Chapman, managing director of cybersecurity in Accenture’s health practice. “Not only do health organizations need to stay vigilant in safeguarding personal information, they need to build a foundation of digital trust with patients to help weather the storm of a breach.”

According to the survey, most data breaches used the identity that was stolen to buy things or pay for medical care. One-third of all consumers had their social security number, contact information, and medical data taken, the survey says.

Stealing medical data is different than, say, stealing credit card information. With credit cards, victims can recover the money lost. With medical identity theft, victims don’t have any rights.

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Medical theft isn’t going away

Because of the lack of victims’ rights and how easily hospital and health care data are compromised, breaches are only increasing. In fact, medical records are stolen every single day. While health care information and records became more accessible to patients, they also become more easily compromised.

It’s not stopping patients, however, as 88 percent of Americans still trust their health care providers with handling their records. Even with the constant breaches, 56 percent of Americans still trust technology companies with their personal information, despite the lack of regulation in the event of a data breach.

So what should we be doing when a breach exposes our data? Most Americans surveyed — 29 percent — updated their health care logins, while 25 percent actually went as far as switching health care providers. More than 20 percent changed insurance plans because of it.

“Now is the time to strengthen cybersecurity capabilities, improve defenses, build resilience and better manage breaches so that consumers have confidence that their data is in trusted hands,” Chapman says. “When a breach occurs, healthcare organizations should be able to ask ‘How is our plan working’ instead of ‘What’s our plan?”

If you’re worried about having your identity stolen, or you’ve previously been a victim of ID theft, there are ways you can get back on track to stay safe. Visit our Solutions Center for how to prevent and report identity theft.

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Article last modified on April 19, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .