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December 5, 2010

Identity Thieves Target Medical Records- Protect Your Social Security Number

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It appears that identity thieves are now targeting medical and dental records. Ask yourself, does your medical and /or dental professional really need your social security number?  What are the security measures they put in place to safeguard your social security number?

Some states have passed laws which allow you to opt out of providing your social security number, except in cases where it is necessary for legal purposes. Some have even implemented alternate identification number programs. These program allow you to use an alternate number for instances where your social security number is not of absolute necessity, such as on medical records.
When Your Social Security Number is Required
Your social number should be provided in instances where the user needs it to perform legally required functions.  For instance:
  • Your bank needs it to provide required reporting to the IRS;
  • Your employer needs it to provide required reporting to the IRS and the Social Security Administration, and
  • Your tax preparer needs it to file your tax return
The following is from the social security administration’s website:
“You should be very careful about sharing your number and card to protect against misuse of your number. Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask:
  • Why is your number needed;
  • How will your number be used;
  • What happens if you refuse; and
  • What law requires you to give your number.
The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours”.
What if Your Medical Professional Insists…
If your medical professional (or any other party that does not require your social security number for IRS/social security or other regulatory mandated purposes) insists that you should provide your social security number, consider giving them an alternate number.
Visit ssa.gov for information about social security numbers ( http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10002.html )

Written By

Denise Appleby

Denise is CEO of Appleby Retirement Consulting Inc., a firm that provides IRA resources for financial/ tax/legal professionals. She has over 20 years of experience in the retirement plans field, which includes training and technical consultation.

Denise writes and publishes educational /marketing tools for advisors; available at http://irapublications.com. Denise co-authored several books on IRAs

Denise is a graduate of The John Marshall Law School, where she obtained a Masters of Jurisprudence in Employee Benefits, and has earned 5 professional retirement designations.
She has appeared on numerous media programs, sharing her insights on retirement tax laws.

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