A Type of Identity Theft You May Not Know About

At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to an article on the Bay Area Reporter’s site.  The B.A.R., as it’s nicknamed, is a weekly paper distributed free of charge in and around San Francisco.  The paper addresses LGBT issues, although the article shared here describes something more general.

The alleged crime has not been proven, although a suspect is being held.  The purpose of this blog post is not to influence public opinion toward a suspect, but to encourage others to research the backgounds of their caregivers.  The allegations in this case suggest some deception may get past any of us, at least temporarily.

If you use the internet, you should be able to confirm whether your doctor, nurse practitioner, et al has a current license.  Agencies that regulate electricians, plumbers and other people you let into your home also post licensee info online.  You can’t always determine whether the person using that license is the actual licensee, but if you know how to use a search engine just the right way you might pull up a photo.

Some patients must rely on clinics with Medicaid contracts. Unfortunately, those clinics may be vulnerable to the type of crime described in the B.A.R. article.  They don’t have the budget for thorough background checks, although in this case it appears the volunteer staff was observant.

Here’s a suggestion, although clinics that treat low income patients probably can’t afford to do it: get a thumbprint of any patient care applicant who receives a contingent job offer.  Then the agency which regulates the applicant’s license (or the Motor Vehicles Department, if the job doesn’t require a professional license) must confirm that the thumbprint matches the applicant’s identity.

Yes, I know.  It’s an easy answer which probably can’t be carried out very well.  At least it isn’t as humiliating for the applicant as peeing into a cup, which a lot of them have to do anyway.

It’s unlikely anyone can prevent every one of these disasters from happening in the first place.  This particular story is especially disturbing when you look at the timeline, but delays in bringing charges are common.  It still hasn’t been decided whether there’s enough evidence to go to trial.

Professionals who are subject to this type of identity theft should keep track of what’s said online about their work.  If a comment sounds unfamiliar, it’s time to ask questions.

A patient who calls you an grandiose jerk might be right on target, but if that patient recalls seeing you in an office where you’ve never worked…


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