Medical identity theft is such a big threat that Clark has been saying for years that he doesn’t give his Social Security number when he goes to the doctor.
When he sees a space on a medical history form for those nine digits, he just leaves it blank.
Read more: Don’t give your Social Security number at these places
Don’t give your doctor your Social Security number!
Medical identity theft has been on the rise — with the number of reported incidents jumping 22% in 2014, up from just the year before. And this type of identity theft can wreak all sorts of havoc in someone’s life.
As far as health providers are concerned, they may ask for your Social Security number to be able to turn you over to a collection agency if you don’t pay.
But do they really need your Social Security number? No way!
“If they have your credit card and your insurance information, they don’t really need your Social Security information,” said Adam Levin, author of “SWIPED: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.”
Just like Clark, Levin doesn’t fill in his Social Security number when he goes to the doctor, and he says he’s rarely had any medical provider request it.
Read more: 5 things you should never keep in your wallet or purse
Before you hit the send button…
Levin also cautions about sending medical information over email or fax.
Prior to your first visit to a new doctor, have you ever been sent a blank medical history form and asked to email or fax it back? You may think this will speed up your appointment, but don’t risk it.
While some medical practices may use secure websites to send and receive this type of information, you never want to send it over regular email.
Instead, Levin suggests that you fill out the form and bring it to the office.
And if you’re planning to fax something, make sure that you’re on the phone with the receiving party while sending it so that you can be 100% sure it’s in their hands.
The safer way to carry a Medicare card
While we’re talking about your SSN, here’s something Medicare recipients should know.
Your Social Security number is printed on your card, so it’s best to only carry your original card in your wallet or purse when you’re planning to go to the doctor, especially an initial visit.
At all other times, carry a photocopy with some of the numbers blacked out.
Read more: The #1 reason to stop carrying your Medicare card