Why Stolen Medical Records are Worth So Much

June 06, 2014
Kevin Lam

Ever wonder why healthcare organizations are so frequently targeted by malicious hackers? Or why criminals prefer stolen medical records as opposed to other types of sensitive data like credit card numbers, financial information and social security numbers? Here’s quick introduction into the black market of stolen healthcare records.

Longer-Shelf Life

The first reason is that medical records can be used by criminals longer than credit card numbers. When credit cards are initially stolen, those cards can command a high price. But over time, as the credit card companies (VISA, Amex, Mastercard, etc.) catch up to those cards they become unusable and the actual value of the card to criminals is depleted.  Medical records on the other than don’t suffer from this. When your medical records are stolen, there’s no such thing as cancelling them. Which means criminals can use your stolen medical records to submit false claim and buy prescription medicine for much longer.

Better Anonymity

Criminals don’t want to get caught and they certainly don’t want to go to jail.  When you use a credit card, before the transaction is completed companies like VISA, Amex and Mastercard have to approve that transaction.  If the card number is a known to be stolen, it’s denied.  Otherwise it’s accepted and the transaction completes.  When someone tries to buy prescription medicine or medical services with stolen medical records, checks like these aren’t done. And even if they were, it would be easy enough to find a corrupt doctor who could then later deny knowing that the record used was stolen in the first place.

Better Yield

Finally, medical records provide a greater yield for criminals. For example, a criminal could purchase a stolen medical record for anywhere between $50-$90. They could then get a prescription medicine like Oxycontin pills (of course depending on the ailment listed in the medical record).  Each of those pills may run for $20-40 per pill. So in just a few pill sales, a criminal would have already made up their initial investment.  And the rest is margin gravy at that point onward.  That criminal could then resell that stolen medical record back onto the black market, and continue using it themselves. So even more margin (I am thinking the same thing too, what a great business model!).

So that’s why criminals prefer medical records over other types of sensitive data.  Thanks for reading and have a great weekend,

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