DENVER - Colorado is among the states with the highest number identity theft cases, which is why you can never be too careful about your personal information - even in places or circumstances that may not be top of mind.
The U.S. Postal inspectors are warning people about a scam that involved a hospital ID theft ring.
Beverly Tiernan didn't think twice when the woman behind the front desk of the hospital she was at asked for her social security number.
It wasn't until months later that she would learn that was a mistake.
"Little did I know that in a few months I would find out that she was giving my social security number, along with many other people's to a bad ring of ID theft."
Tiernan realized it when her husband tried unsuccessfully to access her bank account. The thieves had used that account to create 11 new accounts.
There were 332 victims total in this theft ring.
Eventually Tiernan was able to get her money back. The hospital employee caught selling personal information to the theft ring was arrested along with four others.
According to Social Security Administration hospitals are not one of the places you are required to give your social security number to. You should always ask if you have to give the information when someone asks you for it.
Laws only specify you are required to give your social security number in the following circumstances:
Internal Revenue Service for tax returns and federal loans;
Employers for wage and tax reporting purposes;
Employers enrolled in E-Verify;
States for the school lunch program;
Banks for monetary transactions;
Veterans Administration as a hospital admission number;
Department of Labor for workers' compensation;
Department of Education for Student Loans;
States to administer any tax, general public assistance, motor vehicle or drivers license law within its jurisdiction;
States for child support enforcement;
States for commercial drivers' licenses;
States for Food Stamps;
States for Medicaid;
States for Unemployment Compensation;
States for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; or
U.S. Treasury for U.S. Savings Bonds
According to the Social Security Administration official website http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/78/~/legal-requirements-to-provide-your-social-security-number:
"If a business or other enterprise asks you for your Social Security number, you can refuse to give it. However, that may mean doing without the purchase or service for which your number was requested. For example, utility companies and other services ask for a Social Security number, but do not need it; they can do a credit check or identify the person in their records by alternative means."
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