Usually, your hospital ID bracelet is removed before you leave the hospital.
However, sometimes you arrive home with it still on your wrist. Perhaps the nurses forgot to remove it, or perhaps you just wanted to keep it.
To minimise the risk of identity theft is important that your ID bracelet is disposed of properly.
When it comes time for you to throw it out, there is a potential for it to be retrieved from your rubbish bin or from the general waste stream, and the information used for identity theft or other unscrupulous activities.
As well as your hospital identification number (used to access your medical records), and your treating doctors name, hospital ID bracelets may contain information such as your name, and date of birth. Sometimes this information is in a bar code format. But this is still readable.
If the bracelet is found at your address those 3 pieces of information (name, DOB and address) are all that is needed to commit identity fraud.
Think this unlikely?
In 2014-15, and estimated 126,300 Australians experienced identity theft. One quarter of victims were not aware of how their personal details were stolen.
Once a criminal has this small amount of information they need they could use it to try to:
- Apply for a driving licence or register a vehicle in your name.
- Open a bank account or apply for a credit card in your name’
- Apply for any benefits (such as housing benefit, child benefit etc) in your name.
How to dispose of your ID bracelet.
Although it is unlikely this will happen. It definitely does happen. And those who are targeted for identity theft or fraud face a difficult time sorting it all out.
Its simple. Make sure you cut up the ID bracelet into small pieces. To be extra safe place those fragments in two separate disposal areas.
Better safe than sorry.
Here is a useful publication from the Australian Government on identity theft and ways to protect against it.