If you’ve been listening to my weekly radio show, you know I’m ticked about doctors who “insist” you have to provide a social security number or they won’t treat you. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Lots of folks don’t want to give out this number.

And with good reason. According to Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearning House, a “significant amount of evidence” shows that “ID theft cases emanate from medical offices.”

While giving them your social security number might help coordinate your insurance benefits, the Social Security number was never intended to be the ONE number to identify each person. In fact, I heard last week from a source that the Social Security Administration often gives two different people the same social security number — BY MISTAKE!! I’m still trying to confirm it, but my source works in a capacity to know this for certain.

Here’s something new I’ve learned (or rather, relearned, since I remember covering this when it was first announced back in 1998): The Department of Health and Human Services proposed creating a unique identifier (NOT A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER) for health purposes. What happened to this proposal? I’m trying to find out.

Stay tuned — and stay involved. We’re on a mission to protect our identities this year, any way we can.

April 5, 2006