Identity theft. Consequences of medical identity theft and other data breaches

Identity theft. Consequences of medical identity theft and other data breaches

Description of identity theft and its consequences for both individuals and companies

November 17th, 2020 - Blog post. Last edited: November 23rd, 2020.

Medical identity theft

In Experian words:

“An estimated 1.4M Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2009 While this number is only 5% of all reported identity theft incidents, medical identity theft is expected to increase dramatically as new federal regulations defined in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provide incentives for healthcare providers to quickly move medical records online.

Apart from its quick growth rate, the most expensive and time-consuming consequences of medical identity theft are becoming a matter of serious concern.

But, what is identity theft in the first place?

Identity Theft definition

The ICO defines it as follows:

“Your identity is one of your most valuable assets. If your identity is stolen, you can lose money and may find it difficult to get loans, credit cards or a mortgage.

Your name, address and date of birth provide enough information to create another ‘you’. An identity thief can use a number of methods to find out your personal information and will then use it to open bank accounts, take out credit cards and apply for state benefits in your name.”

Consequences of medical identity theft and other types of data breaches

Identity theft alone is destructive, but can you imagine a medical identity theft?

Apart from the money loss, the stress you can get out of handling this problem may even impact your mental health.

As a matter of fact, regarding the survey conducted by The Ponemon Institute in February 2010, half of the victims of this kind of fraud don’t realise their situation until a year after they had been exploited, and this happens with a bitter letter that says they owe money to a creditor for expenses that thieves incurred in their names.

There isn’t only an impact on the patient. In the business sector, companies breached face a devastating fine for not protecting their customers’ data correctly, which also leads to plummeting their customer relationships, getting a very negative impact in customer trust as it happened in the case of TalkTalk which we covered in this humble blog.

In the UK, according to a Hiscox study, 61% of the businesses were breached in 2017. This is an impressive amount of data stolen. It’s that common it’s just a matter of time for a company to get breached without even knowing it since the average time to detect such incident is 6 and a half months to identify it and 69 days to contain it. This amount of time leads to gigantic money losses for businesses. Containing a breach in less than 30 days saves the company more than $1m compared to others who take longer. This doesn’t just come from the data breaches themselves but from fines from government agencies and lawsuits from customers and indie agencies.

Conclusion:

Data breaches are very present in our lives. Given the number of breaches happening in the world, it’s very clear that our society needs more education to be prepared and thorough programs to address these issues in a much clearer manner.

References:

Anon., Apr 2010. Experian - “The Potential Damages and Consequences of Medical Identity Theft and Healthcare Data Breaches” [Online]
Available at: https://www.experian.com/assets/data-breach/white-papers/consequences-medical-id-theft-healthcare.pdf
[Last accessed Nov 21st, 2020]

Anon., 2020. ICO - “Identity theft” [Online]
Available at: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/identity-theft/
[Last accessed Nov 21st, 2020]

Annabelle Graham, 18 Oct 2019. IT Governance Blog - “The damaging after-effects of a data breach” [Online]
Available at: https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/blog/the-damaging-after-effects-of-a-data-breach
[Last accessed Nov 21st, 2020]

Anon., 2020. Hiscox - “The Hiscox Cyber Rediness Report 2020” [Online]
Available at: https://www.hiscox.co.uk/cyberreadiness
[Last accessed Nov 21st, 2020]

Rob Sobers, Jun 17th, 2020. Varonis - “Data Breach Response Times: Trends and Tips” [Online]
Available at: https://blogvaronis2.wpengine.com/data-breach-response-times/
[Last accessed Nov 21st, 2020]

Anon., 2020. IBM - “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020” [Online]
Available at: https://www.ibm.com/security/digital-assets/cost-data-breach-report/#/
[Last accessed Nov 21st, 2020]


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