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Poll: Few Americans understand 'medical identity theft,' consequences
By Insure.com staff

Just 15 percent of Americans are familiar with the concept of medical identity theft, even though it's the fastest growing type of identity theft, according to a Nationwide Insurance survey.

Medical identity theft is a crime in which someone steals your information to obtain or pay for medical care.

"A stolen medical identity has a $50 street value -- whereas a stolen Social Security number, on the other hand, only sells for $1," Kirk Herath, Nationwide chief privacy officer, said in a press statement. "However, while most people are very careful with their Social Security number to protect their credit and personal information, they tend to be less careful when it comes to their medical information."

The poll found that 22 percent of respondents thought the most likely consequence of medical identity theft would be cancellation of their insurance. In fact, victims face a host of possible damages, ranging from damaged credit to potentially hazardous changes to their medical records.

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