Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Doctor Your Social Security Number
Whenever you visit a doctor or hospital, you’re automatically given a pile of forms to fill out. You’re asked for routine information such as your name, address and phone number and, in most cases, you’re also asked for your social security number. Did you ever stop to think why you’re being asked for it? Here’s why you shouldn’t give your doctor your social security number.
Why Medical Offices Ask for Your Social Security Number
Your social security number isn’t needed to file medical claims, because insurers have a different number used to file medical claims. The main reason medical providers request your social security number is so that they have it if you don’t pay your bills and they need to use it for collection purposes.
That may not seem like a problem if you’ve always paid your bills, but it could create problems for you that you’re not anticipating. Once you have shared your social security number with a medical provider, your risk of being part of a data breach increases. If that happens, your personal information may be compromised.
What to Say When You’re Asked for Your Social
When you leave the line for your social security number blank when filling out medical forms, the medical representative may not even notice. If they should ask for it, you can honestly answer that you prefer not to provide it except when it’s legally required because of the possibility of identity theft.
There are good reasons to be proactive about protecting your personal information whenever you can. Medical providers and insurance companies may not have the security protocols needed to protect the personal information of their clients. Thieves that gain access to your social security number may also be able to access your medical records and your personal financial information.
When You Must Provide Your Social Security Number
Keep in mind that you have the right to refuse to share your social security number, but medical providers also have the right to refuse to provide service if you don’t provide information they request. You also have the right to choose a different medical provider if a provider insists that you share this information with them and you prefer not to.
There are some instances in which you don’t have a choice about providing your social security number. Medicare recipients have to provide their social security number because this number is the ID number used to process health claims. Medicare advises those that use Medicare to share this information only with those you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
Protecting Your Credit
Protecting your identity is an important part of protecting your credit. Your credit score and the information on your credit report are used to decide whether to approve credit applications and what interest rate you’ll receive if you’re approved. It’s important to keep an eye on your credit reports and dispute any information that’s incorrect right away. If your identity is stolen, it can cause damage to your credit that impacts you for many years.
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