A North Vancouver woman is shocked how easy it was for an identity thief to use her B.C. CareCard to rack up almost two dozen prescriptions for hundreds of sleeping pills under her name.
Sharla Keizer had her wallet stolen from a pub while attending a high-school reunion last summer and the thief took not only her cash, gift cards and a credit card, but also her CareCard.
“At the time I thought it was rather odd,” said Keizer.
She reported the card stolen online to Health Insurance B.C.
But five months later when picking up a prescription for low-dose sleeping pills, her first such request, Keizer was puzzled when the pharmacist suggested she wouldn’t need any explanation about the sleeping pills since “you know how this works.”
Her prescription record listed 19 different prescriptions filled since her card was stolen. The prescriptions were for as many as 120 pills with a dosage of 7.5 milligrams. Keizer’s prescription was for 10 pills at a 0.5-mg dosage.
“I was shocked she was able to get so many prescriptions filled,” said Keizer. “And that’s a really ... high dosage. It should have been an easy red flag.”
When she contacted Health Insurance B.C., Keizer was told her card was flagged, ensuring pharmacists ask for identification.
“That clearly was never done,” said Keizer, who was never asked for ID when she filled out her prescription. She wouldn’t have known about the misuse of her card if not for the pharmacist’s casual remark.
B.C. Health Ministry spokesman Ryan Jabs said safeguards are in place with the current cards to prevent fraud, including a password requirement.
But Keizer said she wasn’t told about the password feature and her pharmacist wasn’t aware of it.
“Why doesn’t everyone have a password (to use the CareCard) and then there wouldn’t be all this fraud,” she said. “This fraud could have been stopped.”
Jabs said he couldn’t provide any data about the extent of fraudulent use of CareCards. He said the new B.C. Services Card that will eventually replace CareCards will be more secure.
Keizer said she agrees the new cards would be more fraud-resistant with a photo, but worried that thieves could continue to use the old CareCards for the five years it will take to switch everyone over to the new services card.
And she’s also worried she won’t be able to clear her prescription history.
“It’s permanently on my record,” she said. “I’m worried that I look like a pill-popper.”