SAN FRANCISCO, June 20 Credit card companies are knowinglycontributing to the identity theft epidemic by making it easy for people withaccess to patient records to apply for and receive credit using stoleninformation. Hospital workers, lab technicians and even janitors with aslittle as a stolen social security number are able to manipulate the automatedsystems used by such industry giants as Bank of America, Citibank and Chase toapply for and receive credit issued under the name of an ill or incapacitatedpatient.
phone call and some basic information are often enough for thesecompanies to grant credit without any verification of the legitimacy of theapplicant. The identity theft epidemic victimized 15 million Americans in2006, up 50% from 2005. Severely ill patients in hospitals are often targeted.
Anyone who is hospitalized, in extended care facilities or nursing homesis especially vulnerable," said Eric Drew, himself a victim of HealthcareAssociated Identity Theft (HAIT). "Credit card companies' negligent practiceshave fueled a wave of HAIT crimes that are seriously affecting the financialand physical health of patients."
Drew knows firsthand the crippling implications of the epidemic. Whilefighting leukemia in a Seattle hospital, his identify was stolen by a labtechnician who assumed Drew would die and proceeded to apply for credit cardsand rack up thousands of dollars in debt -- all under Drew's name. A lawsuitis 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 lookat credit granting and reporting procedures and create a new "MedicallyIncapacitated Consumer" category to consider medical patients and elderly whowould be unable to prove their innocence if attacked by an identity thief.
"Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, Equifax, and Experian are fighting meso they can continue to issue and report fraudulent credit without anyapplication verification procedures," adds Drew. "These devastating businesspractices give a green light to identity thieves and put every patient injeopardy."
SOURCE Eric Drew