Cancer patient's personal info stolen at clinic

Published On: Mar 10 2013 02:35:24 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2013 07:00:00 AM EDT

It's a scheme that proves there are few places that are off limits to identity thieves and often crooks have no shame.   What happened to one family serves as a warning that you can't let your guard down when it comes to your personal information.

Elsy and her husband were the victims of such a crime. Elsy discovered the money she and her husband were saving for a new home had been stolen from their bank account.

"They got our personal information from the medical facility where my husband was getting treatment for leukemia," she explained.

While Elsy's husband underwent chemotherapy, an employee of the medical clinic was stealing his personal information from his check-in forms.

"When we found out that money was gone, I dropped to my knees because it terrified me that everything was going to be gone," she said.

"It's rather heart wrenching that someone would take advantage of somebody in that condition," said Frank Schissler, a US Postal Inspector.

Postal Inspectors began investigating Elsy's case and found more than 35 other patients who had also had their personal information compromised.

"They feel violated I'm sure since their information was stolen especially during such a vulnerable time in their lives," said Schissler.

One way to stop the thieves like the ones in this case:  Always monitor your credit card statements, check your credit at least once a year and be aware.

"If you get a call from a hospital, bank or credit card company asking for your personal information do not give it out over the phone. Unless its' a call you initiated they shouldn't be asking for that information they should already have that information," warned Schissler.

This story does have a happy ending.  Authorities were able to recover Elsy's money.

"My husband and I are good, we have a home and he hit the cancer free mark and have our sixth grand child on the way and we're doing great, we're doing great," she said.

A total of four people were prosecuted in this case.  The hospital employee, his nephew, who was sentenced to five years behind bars, the nephew's girlfriend and that girlfriend's neighbor.

In the meantime, when it comes to checking your credit, every person is entitled to one free report a year, from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  That's a total of three free reports a year for everyone.

To do it, the Better Business Bureau recommends the website AnnualCreditReport.com.  It has step-by-step instructions and links to all three credit bureaus.

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