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The importance of physically protecting your license

Could identity theft harm your right to your medical license?

Maybe -- if it turns out that you've been particularly careless with protecting it from misuse.

While anybody could potentially fall victim to an identity theft, medical professionals have to at least be conscious that they could be specifically targeted just for their licensing information. There's a lot of money to be had out there on the streets with a stolen license to write narcotics.

Unfortunately, with the prevalence of narcotic addiction and abuse due to prescription drug overuse, it isn't just strangers on the street you have to watch. If you keep your license in your wallet, for example, you could fall victim to a friend, relative or neighbor who is hiding a secret addiction.

There are other possible misuses for a pilfered medical license as well. Need someone to certify that you're medically safe to continue working that long-distance trucking job? Anyone with access to your medical license could certify -- in your name -- that someone has met medical safety requirements for a job, school or travel.

Another possible purpose for stealing your license could be to "borrow" your certification. There are people out there who lack the credentials of medical school but who are perfectly willing to practice medicine anyhow.

To keep your reputation from being ruined (and avoid having to defend your professional license in a very uncomfortable administrative hearing), do everything you can to protect it from theft:

  • Do not keep it on your person. If you must carry it with you to an event, put it back in its usual safe space as soon as you return home.
  • Don't display it in a public place, except where required.
  • If required to display it, have it behind glass and secured to the wall in an area that is generally visible to others.
  • Invest in a safe to store your license in at home.

Naturally, if your license is stolen or you suspect that someone has compromised it, notify the state board promptly. That way, should any questions arise, you'll be covered for the future.

Source: CPH & Associates, "Where Do You Keep Your License?," accessed Feb. 13, 2018

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