New Ponemon Study Shares Details of Medical ID Theft
Robin Hood reportedly tried to rob a computer store the other day, according to a news story. Logic dictates that it wasn’t the famous 13th century Robin Hood of English folklore; the guy who purportedly wore a forest green gambeson and Loxley riding cape, although clothes supposedly did play a role in the theft.
As CBS affiliate WCCO stated in its coverage of the incident, “apparently Robin Hood steals from tech stores to give to himself.”
According to the WCCO story, a man whose legal name matches that of the legendary founder of “take from the rich to give to the poor,” allegedly left the store with a desktop computer without paying for it. A fast-acting store employee confronted the individual in the parking lot, where the man claimed he must’ve dropped the receipt inside. Police said the suspect then entered the store’s restroom, changed into a different shirt and put on a hat. (I don’t know if it was one of those pointed swashbuckling hats with a pheasant feather.) The disguise apparently didn’t work, as police reportedly detained the suspect in the parking lot after he allegedly made a small purchase and left the store again.
The heroic outlaw Robin Hood of folklore, you may recall from literature or movies with Errol Flynn, Richard Todd, Sean Connery, Russell Crowe, Carey Elwes, Kevin Costner or any of the other countless actors who carried the quiver and fired arrows at the Sheriff of Nottingham, worked on the concept of taking ill-gotten booty from those in charge and distributing it more fairly among the common folk.
Like a lot of old concepts, the notion is a bit tarnished, especially these days when it’s so hard to discern the good guys from the bad guys. Luckily, the idea of helping others still stands. But even systems designed to do that can be corrupted by the actions of not-so-merry men and women who confuse bucking the system with helping themselves to things that belong to others.
A case in point is brought to us this week by the Ponemon Institute and its Third Annual National Study on Medical Identity Theft. Ponemon interviewed 757 medical ID theft victims and found the crime to be more prevalent than ever.
According to the survey results, an estimated 2 million Americans are victims of medical ID theft each year, with the total cost of theft reaching an astounding $41 billion. For individuals, the cost also has increased, rising to $22,346 from $20,663 in 2011.
Other survey results:
- The percentage of people who understand the definition of medical ID theft rose to 90%, yet, 52% of victims surveyed said they did not report the crime to law enforcement or other authorities
- Survey results show that the primary method used to resolve the theft was the victim reimbursing the fraudulent charges to the healthcare provider
- 45% of respondents paid the healthcare provider or insurer for services obtained by the thief
- On average, it took respondents more than a year to resolve the theft
- 57% of respondents said they never check their medical records to verify accuracy of the information
- 51% of respondents said the primary nonfinancial consequence of medical ID theft is a loss of trust and confidence in their healthcare provider
While popular culture and renaissance fairs keep the folklore and deeds of the original Robin Hood before us, medical ID theft remains a serious crime hidden from many by lack of true understanding or an unwillingness to act. If the original Robin Hood had possessed that attitude, he’d just be another 13th century outlaw relegated to the dustbin of history.