Part one in a four-part series about the growing insurance fraud and medical abuse epidemic in New Jersey.
You’re sitting in a line of cars at a red light. The light turns green and you wait for the cars in front to start moving. Unexpectedly, you’re jolted forward. At some point between typing “OMG” and “LOL,” the driver behind you saw green and hit the gas.
You’ve just been rear-ended. And through no fault of your own, your personal information just went public.
Perhaps as an unintended consequence of an otherwise well intentioned law, New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) allows anyone to stroll into the police department of the municipality where your accident occurred and pick up a copy of your accident report. Your name, address, vehicle information, insurance information, and more can end up in the hands of any individual motivated enough to get your report. And those motivated individuals are out there.
What do they want with your accident report? Some unethical health care facilities and law firms may track you down and battle over your business—whether you are truly injured or not! They are motivated by huge payouts they may receive from your auto insurance company if they can convince you to undergo unnecessary and sometimes painful medical treatment. They are putting profits ahead of patients.
So in the mad dash to line their pockets, these unscrupulous health care and legal professionals are exposing your personal information to the world. During a recent investigation, Plymouth Rock Assurance uncovered approximately 70 police reports in a dumpster outside of a doctor’s office in Elizabeth, NJ. Some legal professionals collect accident reports containing personal information so often that police departments have set up bins in the law firms’ names so a representative can swing by and quickly grab a stack of reports.
In the upcoming parts of our series, we’ll look at real cases of unsuspecting victims whose accident reports ended up in the wrong hands.
In the unfortunate event you are involved in an accident, the best advice we can offer is to be alert and consult your own doctor first. If you suspect fraud, abuse or any unethical behavior following an accident, please report your concern as soon as possible by calling our anonymous tip line at 1-855-FRAUDNJ. For more information about insurance fraud in New Jersey, visit www.njinsurancefraud.org.