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Resources > Cyberattacks > Is Your Social Security Number on Your Medical Records—Answered

Is Your Social Security Number on Your Medical Records—Answered

In today’s digital age, where data breaches have become commonplace, you might be wondering—is your Social Security number on your medical records?

This question is not only more commonplace than you think but also crucial in the realm of personal data security. Your medical records contain a trove of sensitive information that makes them a potential target for identity theft and unauthorized access, including vital personal details. This comprehensive guide will discuss whether medical records include Social Security numbers (SSNs), the risks associated with that practice, and the steps you can take to protect your data.

Why Do Medical Providers Require Your Social Security Number?

In the (sometimes tumultuous) landscape of healthcare providers, ensuring accurate patient identification, smooth operational processes, and financial transparency is paramount for patient well-being. Here’s why healthcare providers often request your SSN:

  1. Unique identification
  2. Insurance and billing
  3. Compliance with regulations
  4. Fraud prevention

Unique Identification

Given that common names can result in mix-ups, using an SSN aids in positively identifying patients. This helps ensure that medical records are accurate and that the correct patient is associated with the correct medical data and billing information. Maintaining an accurate record system prevents errors in your treatment and facilitates smooth interactions between different departments or healthcare facilities.

Insurance and Billing

Healthcare providers use your SSN as an identifier when communicating with insurance companies, ensuring that billing and payment processes are carried out smoothly and accurately. Your SSN is also crucial in billing and following up on payments. Some people may fail to settle their bills, leaving hospitals and healthcare practitioners with limited options when they can’t reach out to their patients. Unfortunately, unpaid medical bills are a reality, and healthcare providers might use SSNs to forward unpaid bills to collection agencies or take legal action if necessary.

Compliance With Regulations

Providing an SSN is typically mandatory for individuals who have Medicare or Medicaid to ensure eligibility and accurate billing. In certain instances, healthcare providers are legally obligated to obtain and record your SSN, such as in cases when services are mandated to be reported to the government.

Fraud Prevention

In an era where healthcare fraud isn’t uncommon, utilizing SSNs for identity verification becomes vital in ensuring healthcare services are being provided to the rightful patients. By verifying the identities of individuals using the services, healthcare providers help ensure  that the correct people have the right resources and aren’t utilizing someone else’s healthcare services or benefits.

Do Medical Records Have a Social Security Number?

Whether medical records will include your SSN depends on a number of factors, including your healthcare provider, the state where the care takes place, and the reason for the care.

In the past, it was common for healthcare providers to include SSNs on medical records. However, due to increasing privacy concerns and the risk of identity theft, many healthcare organizations have transitioned away from using SSNs as patient identifiers. In modern electronic health records (EHR) systems, the use of SSNs for patient identification has been largely phased out in favor of unique medical record numbers or other forms of patient identification. This change is aimed at enhancing patient privacy and security.

Potential Risks of Having Your SSN on Your Medical Records

The inclusion of your SSN in your medical records can pose several potential risks, including:

RiskDescription
Identity theftIf unauthorized individuals gain access to your medical records containing your SSN, they can use it for opening new credit accounts and taking out loans in your name or even filing fraudulent tax returns
Medical fraudSomeone could use your SSN to obtain medical care in your name without your knowledge or consent. This could lead to inaccurate medical records, which could make it difficult for you to receive the care you need. It could also lead to financial problems, as you may be billed for medical services that you never received
Insurance fraudIdentity criminals might use your SSN to make false insurance claims, which could affect your insurance premiums and overall financial stability

Do You Have To Give a Hospital Your Social Security Number?

While it might seem compulsory, you often have the right to withhold your SSN from medical services. However, this might complicate certain processes, especially those related to billing or insurance. If you’re hesitant to share your SSN, consider these strategies instead to safeguard against identity theft:

  • If possible, pay for healthcare services in cash upfront. While most providers may consent to this, they might decline if they believe verifying your medical records without identity confirmation poses a challenge
  • Offer your healthcare insurance card and medical identification number, and grant access to your medical records. This will assure providers of pending payment and verify the accuracy of available medical records
  • Ensure that your responses to any questions are conveyed privately and away from the unnecessary attention of other patients or staff members nearby
  • Meticulously monitor your medical bills and payments. Establish an online account with your healthcare provider or insurer to facilitate effective tracking of all billing and payment activities

How To Protect Your SSN on Medical Documents

While your SSN is necessary for many transactions and interactions, it’s essential to understand the potential risks associated with its use. The consequences of identity theft can be devastating, leading to financial losses, damaged credit, and considerable stress. Here are five ways to ensure the safety of your SSN in the context of healthcare:

  1. Limit the sharing of your SSN
  2. Secure storage and disposal
  3. Use secure communication channels
  4. Adopt advanced security measures
  5. Monitor your records

Limit the Sharing of Your SSN

Before sharing your SSN on any medical document, ask why it’s required. Healthcare providers might ask for it, but providing it might not always be compulsory. Request to use alternative identifiers whenever possible—some establishments might accept other forms of identification, such as patient ID numbers. Ensure you read the healthcare provider’s privacy policy and understand how your SSN will be used and protected. Only provide your SSN to known and verified entities, and beware of fraudulent activities or scams requesting your personal information.

Secure Storage and Disposal

Store paper documents containing your SSN in a secure place, such as in a locked file cabinet, and avoid leaving them in easily accessible areas. When disposing of medical records, use a cross-cut shredder to minimize the risk of information being pieced back together. If documents are stored digitally, ensure they’re in encrypted folders and protected by strong, unique passwords.

Use Secure Communication Channels

Ensure that any digital communication involving documents containing your SSN is conducted over secure, encrypted channels. Rely on secure mail services, and consider sending sensitive documents through registered mail to keep track of them. When sharing your SSN verbally, ensure that the conversation can’t be easily overheard, and confirm the identity of the person you’re speaking to first.

Adopt Advanced Security Measures

Ensure that any device used to access or store medical documents containing your SSN is protected with reliable security software. You can also consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection, particularly when accessing or transmitting sensitive data.

Monitor Your Records

Periodically check your medical and financial records for any inaccuracies or unauthorized activities. Regularly review your credit reports for any suspicious activities that might indicate that your SSN has been compromised. You can also set up alerts for any unauthorized access to your medical records or use of your SSN.

To ease the burden of regular monitoring, consider signing up for identity monitoring services like FreeKick, which offers round-the-clock surveillance of sensitive information, including SSNs. Children are especially vulnerable to identity theft—in fact, every 30 seconds, a child has their identity stolen. To reduce this risk, FreeKick gives you access to a comprehensive set of identity protection features for your whole family.

FreeKick—Comprehensive Identity Protection for Your Family (Coming Soon)

FreeKick, an FDIC-insured deposit account by Austin Capital Bank, offers premium identity protection and credit-building services built right in. The identity protection services are family-friendly, covering up to two adult parents and six children aged 0 to 25.

Identity Protection Services

Every FreeKick account offers comprehensive protection services for parents, young adults, and minors to safeguard your entire family from ID theft. The benefits you get include:

Services for Adult Children and ParentsServices for Minor Children
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Lost wallet protection
Court records monitoring
Change of address monitoring
Non-credit (Payday) loan monitoring
Free FICO® Score monthly
FICO® Score factors
Experian credit report monthly
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for children’s personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

Parent-Sponsored Credit Building

In addition to ID monitoring for parents and children, FreeKick provides automated credit building for up to six children aged 14 to 25. A good credit can save your child more than $200,000 over their lifetime, so you should strive to help establish your child’s credit history at an early age.

Opening an account with FreeKick is fast and easy. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create an Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and choose a suitable plan to activate your account. From your account dashboard, you’ll be able to initiate the credit-building process for your child once they turn 14. When your child reaches the legal age, they can enable credit reporting, and FreeKick will automatically report their credit information to the three credit bureaus:
    1. Equifax
    2. Experian
    3. TransUnion
  2. Set It and Forget It—After activating your account, FreeKick creates a 12-month credit history for your child by providing a no-interest credit builder loan that’s repaid using the deposit
  3. Keep Growing—Once the first 12-month term elapses, you can renew your account for another term and continue building your child’s credit score or terminate it and receive a refund of your initial deposit

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick offers two different plans designed to fit diverse budgets, both FDIC-insured up to $250,000. With an initial deposit of just $1 and a minimal annual fee, FreeKick safeguards the identity of your entire family, covering both parents and six children aged 0 to 25. Or, you can add a $3,000 FDIC-insured deposit you’ll get back when you close your account, and get FreeKick for free.

FDIC-Insured Deposit AmountCost
$3,000Free
$1$149/year

Protect your family’s identity and secure your children’s financial future by building their creditworthiness—sign up for FreeKick today.