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.
A 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
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
"Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, Equifax, and Experian are fighting
me so they can continue to issue and report fraudulent credit without any
application verification procedures," adds Drew. "These devastating
business practices give a green light to identity thieves and put every
patient in jeopardy."
SOURCE: Eric Drew