GREENSBORO, NC – It’s a reasonable expectation. You're at the doctor's office, on the examining table. Chances are you're baring some part of your body, right? You don't really think twice about it because it’s the doctor.

But when the office visit paperwork asks for your social security number, that's when it can get embarrassing. You need to say, “no”. Just because a doctor's office or a business asks for it doesn't mean they have to have it.

“When you go to the bank and you open an account, that is one thing, “ says a Postal Inspector. “When you apply for a loan, that is one thing. But, a regular retailer merchant for example, or an online retailer, there is no reason they should ever, ever need your social security number.”

This includes health care forms. Think about all the people in the office.
For example, Arlinda Weaver. She worked at a doctor's office. You see her here buying a thousand dollars worth of gift cards. Investigators believe she used a patient's social security number to open up a credit card.

(richard benoit, fraud victim)
“I was angry to the point where you know, why?,” says fraud victim Richard Benoit. “You know, I mean, why do you have to do it?”

Richard got a call from his bank asking if he had made seven thousand dollars worth of purchases in the last three days. When he said no, he realized he was a victim of ID theft.

“Never think that it's going to be somebody else. Because, you never know, and the one time that you let your guard down is the one time you're going to get burned.”

Now, the doctor's office may tell you they need your social security number for insurance but there are other ways for them to identify you. Ask them to do that.

So, who really needs your social security number in order for you to do business with them? Your bank, the credit bureaus, the IRS, your employer and any government agency you receive benefits from.

And let me once again take the opportunity to remind you, if the man in the story had a freeze on his credit, that woman wouldn't have been able to open that credit card.

A credit freeze is free in NC. Here are the links to all three credit bureaus:

You need to contact each of the bureaus individually, doing just one isn’t enough protection. When you ask for a freeze online, it’s free. Click on each of the bureaus for the online form.




NOTE: You can temporarily “thaw” your freeze so you can get a car loan or a credit card. To do that you’ll need to get a PIN from each of the bureaus. Often, they do this by mail. And if you lose your PIN they can charge you to get it back.