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Weekly Roundup: Identity Theft Schemes Target Healthcare, Tourists and Seniors

Weekly Roundup: Identity Theft Schemes Target Healthcare, Tourists and Seniors
June 14, 2013
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This week's news once again highlighted the growing issue of data breaches at healthcare organizations. It also showed how some specific groups of consumers, including travelers and senior citizens, face high risks of identity theft.

X-Rays Become New Target for Identity Thieves

While many may think patient medical records and hospital central data systems are most often targeted in identity theft schemes, a new trend has emerged: Stolen X-rays. Thieves are stealing hospital X-rays, which can include a patient's personally identifiable information. Sometimes, criminals nab them solely for their silver content. Either way, these incidents should be treated as data breaches and reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Wall Street Journal reported.

New Regulations Look to Decrease Chance of Medical Data Breach

A recent audit of 20 healthcare providers conducted by the Office of Civil Rights found about 65 percent of deficiencies at these organizations were security-related and more than a quarter were privacy-related. Such data shows why it was necessary to enact new security rules for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in March. The audit also showed there is "plenty of noncompliance" at U.S. medical facilities, Leon Rodriguez, director of the OCR, told Health Tech Zone. He added there is clearly room for improvement in data breach protection at these facilities to keep patients safe from identity theft.

Travelers: Beware of Identity Theft Risks

A recent report showed that identity thieves tend to target busy tourist areas and businesses that attract out-of-towners. The 2013 Trustware Global Security Report said retail stores, bars and restaurants, and hotels in tourist towns are the targets for 78 percent of all data breaches, mainly because so many consumers use credit and debit cards at these places. However, another problem contributing to the high number of data breaches at these businesses is that the companies fail to make data security a top priority.

Seniors, Too, Are Likely Targets

Seniors more likely to be the victims of identity theft than younger consumers, Federal Trade Commission data released this week showed. Nineteen percent of the 52,610 complaints filed with the FTC in 2012 about identity theft came from consumers 60 and older. In 2010, just 13 percent were from seniors. High credit scores and a disposable income are some of the factors of senior identity theft. Many thieves are filing false tax returns, using seniors' Social Security numbers, too.

Matt Cullina is chief executive officer of IDentity Theft 911.

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