Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Losing My Identity

One of the things I'm most afraid of these days is identity theft. I have good credit, and frankly, I'd like to keep it that way. You'll understand, then, why I freaked out a bit when I received a statement on Friday from an insurance company I'm no longer with regarding a claim from a doctor I've never seen.

I immediately called the insurance company, who had very little information to give me other than that it seemed someone else may have used my insurance information. The representative I spoke with told me the claim was missing a great deal of information and gave me the number for the physician's office so that I could follow up with them. They were closed at 6PM on Friday, so I had nothing to do but research identity theft on the internet and worry all weekend long. I played through every possible scenario, tried to recall if I might have missed shredding one of the old cards and accidentally thrown one away, put a fraud alert on my credit files (just in case) and stressed out to the nth degree. It was like hypochondria for identity theft victims, because every resource I read that was supposed to help me figure out what to do next only made me worry more about how horrible the situation might be.

On Monday morning, before calling to file a police report, I decided to check with the insurance company to find out if they had a fraud department where I could place a fraud alert on the inactive insurance policy. It turns out that they did, so I called them up and explained the situation. This time, the representative looked at the claim and promptly told me that it appeared there had been an error on the insurance company's part. The claim had been mistakenly applied to my policy instead of the actual patient's policy. The representative submitted a request to clear the claim from my inactive policy and I wrote down the reference number that he gave me so that I can follow up in a couple of weeks to make sure everything has been taken care of.

Apparently, there isn't an identity thief out there with my insurance card after all. Thank God. Talk about a wake-up call, though. I'll certainly be very careful about what personal information leaves my house and how it exits. Now, if you need me I'll be shredding.

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Anonymous said...

That IS frightening. Hell I'd have probably never noticed it wasn't my real bill - we get so many medical bills around here and I never know what they are for. I just pay the darn things. Blah.

NoRegrets said...

Wow, that would have freaked me out too. May even make me start looking at stuff like that!

Vered said...

Identity theft is scary, but in my experience, it is easier to clear up than it used to be, b/c authorities and businesses are now aware that it's happening, so if you are a normal citizen, they mostly believe you.

A fraudulent account was opened in my husband's name a few years ago. We filed a police report, flagged his credit report (you do order your credit report annually, right?) and explained the situation to the creditor, who chose to believe us. So it wasn't too traumatic.

Anonymous said...

Good thing you were keeping track, but keep an eye out if it happens again. Im a paralegal at a lawfirm and we do insurance fraud whistleblower cases. Insurance companies will bill for extra or false services just to get the $$. If you find out about it and report them, thats a million dollar suit for you! I'd be watching them like a hawk if I were you!

Deb said...

Glad that they were able to figure it out. I had my wallet stolen a few years ago with my social security card in it and have been paranoid ever since. They went for the credit cards right away and then a few weeks later used one of the checks that had been in the wallet but it didn't go further than that. We were pretty lucky in that case since they could have done much more damage.

I never thought about insurance claims being an issue though... yikes.

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