Pharmacy information sheets could lead to ID theft
DOVER, Del. - January 5, 2010 (WPVI) -- Something as simple as throwing away a bag could help a criminal commit prescription fraud.
That's the warning from police in Delaware, who have encountered this problem and are working to warn as many people as possible.
"The crime trend which has allowed criminals to obtain fraudulent prescriptions because they have access to information they normally don't have access to," said Corporal Jeff Whitmarsh of Delaware State Police.
When you have a prescription filled, the pharmacist puts the pill bottle in a bag with an information sheet stapled to the outside. Some people take the bottle out and toss the bag into a trash can outside the store as they're leaving.
But, the bad guys are watching. Video surveillance shows a suspect going through a trash can outside a drug store. The information sheets they find can be a bonanza.
"Some of these sheets have the patient's name and date of birth you know some people can do a whole lot with that information."
The information varies from pharmacy to pharmacy, but some can be enough to lead to identity theft. In most cases the information is used to create a second phony prescription. That's what police say three people from Drexel Hill and Philadelphia did to get oxycontin from drug stores in Wilmington.
Pharmacists like Bill Fox are taking extra precautions. They put only the customer's name on the label and no other personal information like birth dates. They also require an ID. So far, they haven't had a problem.
"There could be a crack in our system but if we knew it we would fill it right away."
Most customers are careful with their information sheets, but Georgette Stelyn admits she usually discards it outside the store.
"I'm more worried on the computer and giving out my card number. I never thought about the garbage outside of the pharmacy."
The police say the best way to avoid this new fraud is to treat your drug information like your bank statement. Tear it up and throw it away at home.
delaware, prescriptions, identity theft, crime
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