CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cyber security leaders warned you should avoid giving out your social security number whenever possible.

Just because a form or application asks for your social, doesn't mean you have to provide it. For example, doctor’s offices often ask for that information on patient forms, but you are not legally obligated to fill that part out.

“We don't require patients to fill out their Social Security number,” a medical center spokesperson said. “They give us their insurance card which has the policy number on it, and we can get all the information and verification we need from that.”

You are legally required to provide your Social Security number for:

  • Tax returns
  • Employers
  • Credit applications
  • Federal benefit applications
  • Department of Motor Vehicles

Experts said you should not give your Social Security number for the following, even if someone asks:

  • Doctor and dentist forms
  • Frequent shopper/loyalty card applications
  • Public schools
  • Airlines, cruise lines, travel agents

Cyber security experts said this is especially important during tax season. If someone gets a hold of your information, they can file a false tax return and steal your refund. Last year, scammers got away with $227 million.

Even trusted companies like doctor’s offices can be hacked. 158 million social security numbers were stolen last year alone.

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