Thieves could now be targeting your medical records

Businesses may already be rushing to protect their financial information, but other kinds of personal data are at risk, too. Case in point: medical records.

Big companies with huge profit margins might seem like the most attractive targets for identity theft and fraud. After all, what more direct way to get at your money? But there are other ways an outsider could infiltrate your personal data. Right now, security around healthcare information is a big concern, and fraudsters are lying in wait to pounce on gaps in the system.

Recently, the Montgomery Advertiser reported the story of National Guardsman Zane Purdy, who fell victim to a particularly nasty bit of fraud that cost him his high-paying job. Now he's a waiter making fewer than eight dollars an hour, barely enough to support his wife and two kids. Purdy's story is heartbreaking, and he's only one of the more than 800 people taken advantage of by the same criminal.

That criminal would be a woman named Angeline Austin, who stole information from the files of an Alabama medical center and sold them to another source. Austin has been tried and sentenced to nearly five-and-a​-half years in prison, but that still leaves a huge mess for people like Purdy to clean up.

This particular flavor of scam is becoming more common than you probably think. So far, almost 50 percent of the identity theft incidents reported to the Identity Theft Resource Center for 2013 concern medical organizations. Unless we increase our medical fraud prevention skills, the number could get even higher. 

For a digital hijacker, nothing is off-limits. Those who process medical records should take it upon themselves to incorporate proper fraud detection into their practices as soon as possible. Otherwise, we may be facing a nation of Zane Purdys who did nothing wrong but trust their health info to the unprepared. 

John Sileo is a medical security expert and keynote speaker on privacy, identity and fraud protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.