As the high risk of medical identity theft continues to threaten consumers' financial and health records, patients should be more proactive in guarding against unauthorized use of their personal information. With the recent string of data breaches in the health care industry, patients are more vulnerable to identity theft that could cause potentially harmful medical errors and denial of medical care.

A study by Kaiser Permanente found nearly 30 million health records were affected by hacking incidents in the last four years, The Associated Press reported. The sensitive information exposed in the data breaches and theft include patient names, addresses and Social Security numbers. 

In 2013, data breaches compromising medical information surged to 9 percent of all hacks, from about 5 percent in 2010, according to the AP. With health care data breaches on the rise, consumers should make sure they guard their information from thieves.

Here…

Parents spend years guarding their children from scrapes and cuts. However, some of the biggest damage done to their children's well-being could come from identity theft. As parents send their children off to college, they should continue to protect their kids by monitoring their credit scores. 

The average credit score for consumers age 18 to 24 is about 630, according Credit Karma. However, college students' scores could be lower than this if they had their credit damaged by identity thieves. Once thieves have young people's sensitive information, including their dates of birth and Social Security numbers, they could open new lines of credit that could lower their creditworthiness and cause problems down the line as they try to obtain a loan or apartment. 

Here are ways to properly monitor your college student's credit score:

Request a Free Credit Score
To make sure their children's information is…

Of all the types of personal information that could put you at risk for identity theft when in the wrong hands, your Social Security number is the most vulnerable. As the most unique way the government, doctor's offices and creditors can identity you, your Social Security number is necessary to apply for new credit and other benefits. This is why thieves often target this key piece of information to steal.

With the risk of identity theft high, here are three ways to protect your Social Security number:

1. Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
It is rare that you will need to bring your Social Security card with you. When you don't need your Social Security card, make sure to leave it at home and in a secure location, such as a locked safe. This limits the chance someone could glance at your card or steal your wallet…

While consumers believe their personal information belongs wholeheartedly to themselves, the companies they entrust these details to might see things differently. The issue of whom consumer private information belongs to once they hand them over to sign up for services or online accounts has recently come to the forefront. RadioShack is selling customer records in a sale following its bankruptcy, CNNMoney reported. The concerns raised by the possible customer data auction could prompt more consumers to improve their data security and privacy. 

Millions of Customer Records for Sale
Up on the auction block is 117 million customer records, which may include names, phone numbers, email addresses and even purchase history. The company aims to sell these and other assets in the sale in order to raise money and pay off its creditors. 

The winning bidder of the auction and this information is Standard General LP, PCWorld reported….

With the chance of consumer identity theft after a data breach, companies are at risk for lawsuits after a cyber-related incident. As the threat of cyberattacks, data breaches and even malicious insiders grows, companies need to protect themselves not only from financial losses stemming from compromised information, but also from legal actions brought on by affected consumers. But what happens for companies and consumers after a lawsuit concludes? Recently, Target is reportedly ready to reach a settlement in a class action lawsuit, but the journey to this point has not been easy, according to MarketWatch

Consequence of Massive Data Breaches
Because of the huge scope of the breach, Target may pay out $10 million with individuals impacted by the breach potentially reimbursed for losses up to $10,000. The breach occurred during the hottest shopping period of the year, around Black Friday in 2013. Hackers infected the…

When consumers use an ATM, the most they worry about is forgetting to take back their card or grab the money out of the machine. However, with the increase risk of fraud, you have more to fear as you may not notice ATM skimmers secretly working in the background. ATM skimmers, or devices that read and record credit card information, lead to credit card fraud, which could raise your debt levels and wreak havoc on your credit history. 

Recently, a man from Chicago was convicted of helping operate a $5 million ATM skimming crime ring in several states, according to the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office. The scam victimized thousands of customers from banks like Citibank and Wells Fargo by installing skimmers in ATMs in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida and other states.

With scammers using more sophisticated methods to steal financial information and make fake bank cards,…

While patients think their health care information is safe from hackers compared to their financial information, medical identity theft is spiking. There are several sources for medical identity theft, which could leave patients at risk for costly bills or health care errors.

Here are three ways patients are at risk for medical identity theft:

1. Insider Breaches
Although health care providers are likely to do a background check on job applicants, workplaces will still have insider threats who could cause patient information data breaches. Insiders were the source of 23 percent of breaches in 2012, according to the Health Information Trust Alliance. In addition, records exposed by insider breaches represented 13 percent of all health records compromised. To prevent insider data breaches, health care organizations could restrict access to patient information only to relevant medical professionals. 

2. Giving Info to Loved Ones​
Whenever someone other than the…

Like the thieves behind the crime, identity theft can take on many disguses depending on the information stolen. When identity theft goes undetected, these crimes can not only cost victims their money, but also their health and well-being. As each kind of identity theft could be more deadly than the next, here are three types of identity theft to avoid:

Child ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Thieves often go after children's identities through stealing data from schools or even taking their relatives' information. Children will likely not know they were victims until they are denied for their first loan, credit card or even housing because of a poor credit history. This blemished credit report could cause them to be denied new lines of credit, which could stunt their financial wealth. 
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Check your child's credit scores by requesting a free credit report and…

While identity theft can take many forms, medical identity theft is not only a complex crime, but devastating for victims. A new report revealed the number of medical identity theft victims surged almost 22 percent in 2014, with more than 2 million victims total, according to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. The Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft found an upward trend of patients affected by medical identity theft that will likely continue into 2015 as hackers target the health care sector, ThirdCertainty reported.

"2015 will be a year of increased attention to the pervasiveness and damaging effects of medical identity theft," Ann Patterson, MIFA senior vice president and program director, said in a statement.

With medical identity theft likely to have a significant impact this year, patients should guard their information. 

Here are three ways to fight against medical identity theft:

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With the daily drumbeat of data breach news, it’s easy for businesses and consumers to get fatigued about data security.

But data breaches present banks with a unique opportunity to educate themselves about security threats and raise awareness with customers—commercial and individual, alike—on how to mitigate risk.
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