Recently, respiratory therapist Betty Cole of Miami pleaded guilty to stealing the names and Social Security numbers of more than 800 patients of South Miami Hospital and selling the information to criminals who used the information to file phony income tax returns using this information. The IRS paid more than 4.5 million dollars in phony refunds and the victims were tremendously inconvenienced and delayed in getting their legitimate tax refunds as a result of the filing of the phony returns. For more information about the huge problem of income tax identity theft, check out the archives of Scamicide at the top right hand corner of this page. More detailed information about income tax identity theft can be found in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” which can be purchased from Amazon by clicking on the icon on this page.
A person’s Social Security number is a key to many forms of identity theft so it is important to safeguard that number as much as possible. Many companies and agencies use it as an identifying number when it is not legitimately required for that purpose. Medical care providers do not necessarily need your Social Security number in order to provide medical services and, if asked by a medical care provider, as I was recently, you should respond by asking to provide a different number, such as your driver’s license as a substitute. In this way, if the medical care provider’s data is hacked or stolen, you will not find yourself in jeopardy of identity theft.