For years, many people and patients have grappled with the inefficiencies of many hospitals and doctors and the fact they used archaic paper files. This meant sharing information between different institutions was timely, costly, and rife with errors. Over the past few years, however, hospitals and other care facilities have gone digital. While this has fixed many of the problems caused by using paper, it has opened a new Pandora’s box of identity theft issues.

As seen over the past two years, large-scale data breaches are becoming more and more prevalent for hackers. The massive amounts of information they can mine out of these large-scale breaches often net them thousands of files containing sensitive and valuable personal information on millions of users. In the healthcare system, these files have a veritable treasure trove of the kind of information the black market and the dark net will pay thousands of dollars to get in their hands.

Hackers can get a few cents for things like your social security number or a single credit card number. But, medical records can go for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. The reason is the amount of information contained in medical files. Your medical data contains not just your name but the names of attending physicians, nurses, specialists, as well as policy numbers, diagnosis codes, billing information, and then every piece of your private, personal information people pay premium money for, such as your date of birth, social security number, height, weight, medical history, family medical history, and so on and so on. It isn’t difficult to see how much damage can be wrought from hackers gaining access to your medical records, as they are worth exponentially more on the black market than one or two pieces of your information.

While you may not have any control of the institutions that already have your personal information on file, you can take steps to ensure the damage is limited or non-existent by taking the right steps. Monitoring your identity, freezing your credit, and checking your monthly credit report are simple, yet effective steps to take in making sure you aren’t a perpetual victim of hackers and identity thieves.