News stories have been popping up recently about individuals stealing the identity of a nurse to pose as that person to get a job. For example, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of late famed singer Whitney Houston, was in a hospice where she was being cared for by an impostor nurse.
Because nursing jobs may be more readily available in rural areas and members of the profession often make more money than the average population, it is little wonder that nurses would become the prime targets for identity theft.
In preparation for this article, I had the privilege of speaking to Linda Vincent, RN who is not only a registered nurse but a private investigator as well. What a combo! She can be found at www.theidentityadvocate.com. Ms. Vincent states that nurses who are substance abusers oftentimes will use another nurse’s identity and license to get a job and possibly to steal medications.
There are 5 things you can do to protect your identity:
- Check your license and make sure there is nothing wrong with it;
- Do a background check on yourself;
- In States (sadly, like Indiana) where fingerprinting is not required in obtaining a nursing license, ask your State legislators to require mandatory fingerprinting as part of the license application process;
- Put a freeze on your credit;
- If you notice anyone not practicing up to the appropriate standard of care, say something. It is our job to work together. If there is anyone who does not seem to quite be practicing up to the standards or may not be the person they say they are, say something.
On point 4: don’t hesitate to freeze your account and don’t worry, you can unfreeze it at any time. Unless you are going to buy something like a car or a refrigerator, you probably don’t need credit. If your account is frozen and someone fraudulently applies for credit in your name, they will be immediately stopped! To learn more about this, as each State has different rules, just Google it to learn more.
As I indicated, here in Indiana, all one needs to obtain a nurse’s identity is their license number, which is public record, and the last 4 digits of their social security number.
Recently, while renewing her license, a nurse in Indiana questioned why her address had been changed but never said anything. The victim never suspected that another nurse was practicing as a registered nurse using the stolen identity and license number. It was not until the imposter nurse was arrested that the victim realized her identity had been stolen.
If your State is like Indiana in this scenario, ask your State legislators to put more protections in place so that no one can go into your license account and make changes to any of your personal or confidential online licensing information.