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Credit Card Companies Fueling Healthcare Associated Identity Theft (HAIT) Crimes
Date:6/20/2008

Automated Systems Issuing Credit without Verification Put Millions at Risk

SAN FRANCISCO, June 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Credit card companies are knowingly contributing to the identity theft epidemic by making it easy for people with access to patient records to apply for and receive credit using stolen information. Hospital workers, lab technicians and even janitors with as little as a stolen social security number are able to manipulate the automated systems used by such industry giants as Bank of America, Citibank and Chase to apply for and receive credit issued under the name of an ill or incapacitated patient.

phone call and some basic information are often enough for these companies to grant credit without any verification of the legitimacy of the applicant. The identity theft epidemic victimized 15 million Americans in 2006, up 50% from 2005. Severely ill patients in hospitals are often targeted.

Anyone who is hospitalized, in extended care facilities or nursing homes is especially vulnerable," said Eric Drew, himself a victim of Healthcare Associated Identity Theft (HAIT). "Credit card companies' negligent practices have fueled a wave of HAIT crimes that are seriously affecting the financial and physical health of patients."

Drew knows firsthand the crippling implications of the epidemic. While fighting leukemia in a Seattle hospital, his identify was stolen by a lab technician who assumed Drew would die and proceeded to apply for credit cards and rack up thousands of dollars in debt -- all under Drew's name. A lawsuit is on-going to hold these banks who issued the credit responsible.

A major focus of Drew's lawsuit is to require the credit industry to look at credit granting and reporting procedures and create a new "Medically Incapacitated Consumer" category to consider medical patients and elderly who would be unable to prove their innocence if attacked by an identity thief.

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SOURCE Eric Drew
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