INDIANAPOLIS — Your social security number is the key to the kingdom.
That's why Cindy Baker protects hers at all costs.
After a recent visit to a doctor's office, Baker wanted to know if she needed to provide them with her social security number.
"They give you that clipboard that you have to fill it out with all of your medical information and your insurance information. And I was fine until I got down to the line where it wanted my social security number," Baker said.
Baker paid cash for the visit, and ultimately did not provide them with the number.
What if I go through insurance?
13News reached out to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to see what information they use to process claims.
A spokesperson for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it "does not require providers to include the patient’s SSN when submitting a claim. Just name, date of birth, date of service, coding for the visit. Not social security numbers."
A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said "A doctor’s office would only need the data from a beneficiary’s Medicare card to process a Medicare claim. Starting in April 2018, CMS began distributing new Medicare cards replacing the Social Security-based Medicare number with a new randomly generated Medicare number, for all Medicare beneficiaries in an effort to reduce Medicare and Social Security fraud and abuse."
However, keep in mind, that a doctor or business can turn you away if you opt not to provide it.
Businesses that typically require your social security number are those that need to alert the IRS or comply with financial regulations.
How do I handle social security number inquiries?
Security expert Carrie Kerskie said just because establishments ask for the information doesn't mean you have to provide it.
"When I see the social asked for on a form or on a website, I usually start by leaving a blank," Kerskie said. "Just say, do you have to have this? Can I get the service without providing it to you?"
If the establishment says that it's for recording keeping, ask if there is something else that you can provide.