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Q&A: When patients refuse to provide social security numbers

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Patients are not required to provide their social security numbers, even if your practice asks them to do so.

Q: What should a practice do when a patient refuses to give his Social Security Number? Without the number we cannot send patients' accounts to collections if they do not pay off their balances.

A: Patients are not required to provide their social security numbers, even if your practice asks them to do so. According to the Social Security Administration, "Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly." A collection agency shouldn't need the number to pursue a patient; it should be willing to work with whatever information you provide, though it's obviously easier for the agency to track down patients if you have their Social Security Numbers. If your collection agency demands them, it's probably time to find a new agency.

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