Doctor's Office, SS# vent

adellabedella_usaApril 13, 2005

I'm not sure of the proper forum, but I'll post this here.

Background Story: I asked my doctor for a referral to have some skin tags removed. The office faxed the referral over to a specialist. The next day the specialist's office called me to set up an appointment and requested my SS# which I provided. I thought it was weird that they called me, but I do live in a small town that is losing a lot of doctors so I thought maybe they just wanted to secure my business. They sent me some forms to fill out that requested my ss#, insurance card photocopy, driver's license photocopy, and dh's ss# because he is the person who physically works and my insurance is through him.

I gave my ss# and the photocopy of the insurance card. I said that dh's info was not applicable and refused to provide a copy of my driver's license. They said the driver's liscense was for for the specialist's benefit so he could put a name with the face. My opinion is that they need to take a picture if it's that important. That happened a couple of days ago. Today they called and requested dh's ss# again. They said they had to have it because he was the insurance holder. I gave it to them.

Now dh is upset and so am I. I know this is a doctor's office, but now I'm worried about identity theft. I'm wondering if the specialist's office actually *needed* that info. I may call the insurance company to see what they require from the doctor.

I'm just sort of venting here, but if anyone has any useful comments or advice, I'd appreciate it.


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The Social Security numbers for you and your husband sound routine to me since your coverage comes under the policy from his employer. The driver's license copies may be an attempt to verify that the person who presents the insurance card is actually the same person who's entitled to use it. I've heard of situations where people attempt to obtain coverage under someone else's insurance policy even when they're not actually covered under the policy, usually with the cooperation of the insured person.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 2:20AM
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I've also disagreed with this policy because anyone working in that office can have access to anyone's SS#.

Clark Howard has spoken out against it not being actually needed, for years. And he has had instances where it really did result in identity theft at the hands of administrative workers in medical offices.

At least the health care industry has begun tracking the SS# in the background, and not making it part of the insurance ID number, which for years was the case.

But for now, I think doc's offices still want to ask for SS#'s until a better system comes along.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 8:27AM
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Since the specialist's office was so adament that they needed dh's ss#, I called our insurance company. The insurance company told me that there was no reason for them to have needed dh's # since I was the patient and they really only might need his account number. The person I talked to said that sometimes people have to show their driver's license to verify who they are, but not photocopy it.

I guess I'm paranoid about ID theft. We have a lot of illegial aliens, drug trafficking and theft here. There aren't many employment options for a lot of the locals. I'm afraid of someone using my id for a little extra income.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 12:10PM
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The SS# issue is also, in some cases, related to the fact that credit reports are maintained by SS#. Credit and bill payment are major issues in the health care industry.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 3:53PM
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Some years ago the Canadian government told everyone to register to obtain a Social Insurance number.

Said that everyone must have one.

Swore up and down that it was only between them and the individuals involved.

Yeah, right.

Then the banks needed to know - so they could report interest payments to income tax "folks". Possibly also transfers of large amounts of cash, though no one mentioned that at the time.

Then the stockbrokers needed to know - same reason, but with the addition of sale of stocks, etc. for a profit - or possibly, a loss.

Of course, all people interested in tracking our I D began asking for them, as that was a very convenient tag to keep track of all of us.

If it isn't required, that I can verify, I *always* tell those who request it to go suck eggs. Especially agencies/entities/god knows who on the internet who ask for it.

We have an electronic store around here that wants to know address, phone, etc. when we buy a minor article. Or, they used to. I haven't been in their store for some time.

I have objected. The only real objection is when you leave the products on the counter and walk out.

While, as many of you know, I'm a reasonably forthright ("transparent"?) person - there are a number of issues regarding my privacy that I get right antsy about.

By the way - a number of Canadians are concerned that much of our private information regarding money activities, medical information, etc. is being stored in electronic databases out of country, especially in the U.S. Many of us are unenthused about a good deal of our private information being available to the government operated investigative agencies of a foreign government.

Before you say, "If you're not up to nefarious activities, what have you to worry about?" ... how would you like a lot of your private information to be available for perusal by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police?

Good wishes for keeping the parts of your privacy that you want kept private - precisely that way.

ole joyful (maybe the o j that I've been on has been too bitter - do you detect a sour taste in my mouth?)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 1:36PM
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That's a good point, and the sad fact is that many consumers don't care about this issue, and many others actively support ever more invasions of individuals' privacy in the interest of "enhanced security."

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 10:57AM
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I don't think we don't care. I sometimes think it's futile. Years ago, we began to call our insurance companies to request a non-SSN ID number. My husband and I spent hours in an unsuccessful attempt to do so as each year's new health signup period came. We've been married 15 years now, and finally times are a-changin'. The insurance industry is finally starting to realize there are many ways to keep track of customers, without using their actual SSN.

I also know that billing collections is an issue for medical offices, but they don't do credit checks when we come for a visit. So it can't be for that reason alone. I think they are just not willing to change yet (kind of like the years it took for insurance companies to change).

I always thought it was to more easily connect our claim with our insurance company file (in your case that would be a reason to ask for your husband's SSN), but now that the insurance companies are finally going with proprietary ID numbers instead of SSN, that excuse will soon go away, too, and maybe we'll finally see some change.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 11:22AM
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You might notify the credit bureas that this information was given out and check about a identify theft program. Their is a way, you can request this information. We have it thru one of our credit cards. Contact Eqifax, etc and ask them to monitor your account for 90 days.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 5:03PM
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Another reason to keep an eye on one's personal information in doctors offices, etc.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2005 at 7:09PM
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Having spent the better part of 20 years working doctors' offices, I see no reason why they needed your husband's SS# if they had a copy of the insurance card. That's really the only information of that sort needed since it identifies the insured right there.

How did they explain it? Just the old "company policy" excuse? I mean, they really DON'T need his SS# since they had his insurance ID number....

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 7:24AM
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Here in KC a lady was just arrested for stealing SSN from the health care place she worked at.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 9:57AM
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I work for an eye doctor's office and most of the insurances we take use the SS#. Personally I don't like it but I do need the SS# to get insurance approval and to file for glasses/contacts and exams. So for some insurance it might be needed.

Now in your case you checked with your insurance company and they said the didn't need the SS# so I wouldn't give it to them.

I never give my SS#. My insurance doesn't use the SS# anymore so I never give my husbands either.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 8:40PM
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Oh wait until you qualify for Medicare. Guess what your identification number is? Yep, you got it your SS# and you will be giving it to everyone when you go for medical help.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 3:44PM
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My school ID number was my SS # . You had to give this number when you bought something at the college. My first couple health care cards used my SS# and now I have noticed they have switched. If you apply for a store credit card they ask you for it and I tell them I don't want the card then. HOpefully everyone's ideas will change about using the number.
In nearly all cases I leave the SS# area blank. When I hand in the medical papers I just say "I really am not comfortable writing down that information, do you really need it???" I think in every case the receptionist has said "no, We dont need it and that is fine"
If you "take a stand" you will find that many places that request this information don't need it! If they ask for it again say you don't know it right now and don't fill it in. then in most cases both parties will forget about it.
Also for identity theft you need more than a SS#. You need correct DOB and name and other identifying factors. Guard you DOB well also. When you sign up for things where you need to list your DOB "just because" write in a false one or write in the correct month and year. A forum (like this one) doenst' need your DOB! Don't give it to them.
When you call your bank what things do they want when you call to identify you as you?? SS#, account #, DOB and sometimes your mother's maiden name. Guard these all well.
If someone had ALL these things then they could call you bank or credit card and transfer money.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 9:31AM
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Whenever I go to a new doctor's office they have photocopied my driver's license. This is nothing new, it has been going on since about 1990 or before. I think it's to prevent fraud on the patient's part, to make sure the doctor gets paid.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 11:33AM
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I just leave blank the spot for SS#. If they called to get it, like they did w/ you, I'd refuse. But so far, they never have.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 1:31PM
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If you have Medicare, your Medicare number is the same as your Social Security Number. Why doesn't the government stop this?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 3:01PM
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Why doesn't the government stop this? Because it makes things easier for the government, and worse for you. Why do you think?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 12:19PM
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Medical ID theft is a real concern. This article is just one reason why we stopped giving this information out when we seek medical care.

Hospital ID Theft: How to protect yourself

I believe ID Theft originates with the credit bureaus and data brokers. Look at ChoicePoint, they "inadvertently" sold people's information to crooks. If the credit bureaus were forced to first ask your permission before releasing information, then it wouldn't get into the wrong hands. Why aren't they punished more often when this happens?

I find it insulting that they are allowed to sell my most personal information to strangers who then turn around and issue credit to other strangers without my permission.

Then to add insult to injury, the credit bureaus try to sell me credit monitoring services. I wouldn't NEED it if I were able to decide who gets to see my information in the first place.
I feel like this is a form of racketeering. I am looking forward to the day when citizens in all the states (not just 20) have the right to freeze their credit reports and stop the wholesale theft of their good names.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 8:31PM
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I have a few things to add.

On my insurance card, which is held by my husband, for the ID number that the office need to have in order to bill for my services it says :

Cardholder ID number: Cardholders SS number

The actually number isnt printed on the card. Therefore in order to bill for my service they need to be provided with my husbands SS number.

Second, have your ID checked is not a bad idea. Stolen health IDs is a growing problem (this coming from a Pharmacist who sees this quite frequently). Your health care providers trust that you are who you say you are. Anyone could come in providing your personal information and obtain services and that provider wouldnt be any wiser that it wasnt really you. I commend your office for adding a photo ID check into their process.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 12:52PM
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My dentist has a computer program that takes a photo of me and inserts it into the records. So along with a record of the work that was done, they also have video of the dental procedure (root canal) It is facing you when they are doing the procedure.
I am an attorney and often photograph clients who are making a will; or who are the subject of conservatorship proceedings. Its a reminder of what they look like --whether they are in a wheelchair or looking alert and happy. Unfortunately I haven't always been able to do it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 7:49PM
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A few years ago I went in for a colonoscopy. I was in a lot of pain and the girl taking the info. out of the clear blue sky asked me what bank I used. Yes, a red flag did go up...but I was in pain....and thankgoodness did not give her the correct bank. Gave her one with mortgages. Sure enough, identity theft. They used my name and address to try and break into this bank. Did it all on the computer. The bank just sent us a letter stating the change in the pin number had been changed. This was the day before Thanksgiving. We called the bank and told them this was fraud. They have the nerve to tell us that they didn't know if we were really were who we said we were and had to be at the bank the first thing in the morning after the holiday to cancel this account. I was furious. I now go to the sheriff's department. Couldn't even go up to see him...just talked on the phone down stairs. He said, (I quote) do you know how many people we have working on identiy theft???? I said. NO...He says "Your talking to him". Can you believe this. Well, we stopped the theft and since a crime was not committed, they could do nothing about it. Plus, we don't know what computer she used to do this. Think about this. She did everything from a name, address, and bank. I could not tell the doctor about this because if I identified her, I could be sued since I would be accusing her of a crime. I should have sent a letter without identifying myself but didn't. I'm disgusted with myself I didn't. I was stupid and pain or no pain I did not use my head!!!! But I never never never give out my social. Also, why do Doctor's offices need to know where you were born. My theft was just giving an address and a bank. Think what they can do with your address, age, date of birth and where you were born. I'm saying this because tomorrow I'm going to a new doctor and they have already asked where I was born on the phone. I stopped the conversation before they were completed. We are being paranoid, but I've had this theft twice now. The first time was my credit card. You are not safe in a doctor's office. You really don't know who these people are you're giving this info to. Give as little as possible.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 3:01PM
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We froze our credit reports years ago. I don't know if it helped, but it hasn't hurt. If you want to apply for credit at some point you can lift the freeze on your report for whatever length of time the place researching your credit needs -- an hour, usually.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 2:05PM
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I have to do that every time I go to a new doctor, it's just routine. I often have to do it again to update the info. It is for identification reasons. We hear about ID theft, but not to much about someone using someone else ID and insurance card to get free service.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:36PM
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