Not Without My Permission

If you are a fan of the movie The Fifth Element you will recognize the sentence above. If you are not that’s okay. (If you are a SciFi fan definitely watch it.) However, that is not what this blog post is about.

The subject of this blog post is the fact that we are bombarded day after day with advertisements, solicitations, and other superfluous bullshit. We get it in our email boxes (so much so that we set up junkemail@whatever.com addresses), we get calls from credit card companies, vacation purchasing, charities, and survey companies. It matters not that phone numbers are listed on the “do not call” list because that list does not apply to charities or surveys…or government political announcements. I am sure I am leaving someone out but you get the gist.

We waste time deflecting the onslaught of baloney that is of no interest to us. I recently got a survey requesting I share my home buying experience via email when I did not purchase a home. And I can’t tell you the number of times that I have received correspondence about some insurance sales job that is open and don’t get me started on the number of “hot girls” that are ready to talk to me now….

The funny part here—funny odd not funny ha ha—is that when I actually want information I need to send a written request. If I want results of a lab test, medical procedure I have to get a form and give permission to myself to get the information. If I am dealing with a government agency I can’t even get general information without my family member’s consent. Yes, I know about HIPPA. But HIPPA will still allow medical information to be shared—just read those financial agreements you sign at the doctor’s office. Typically there is a provision in the agreement which states if your account goes to collections the folks doing the collection have access to your medical information.

How protected is our information (social security number, medical info and the like) if every bank, doctor’s office, prospective employer, and insurance company has it? Why are company’s still asking for your social security number to identify your account? Are these customer service representatives at these places receiving background checks?

I don’t know that there is a fix to this situation. It seems that only in light of the numerous security breaches that entities are rethinking the way they identify accounts. But there are a few things that you can do that might help. The most important is not to give out your information. Remember just because someone asks you for something does not mean that you have to give it to them. Be careful where you share your birthday, address, and social security number.

The doctor’s office does not need it; especially if you have an insurance card. Only give out the last four digits as an identifier if necessary. If you are filling out job applications only provide your full social security number once you actually secure the position. And definitely stay away from giving your information to any caller asking for your personal information. If they say they are from a company that you do business with; call that company back and confirm. But I would venture to guess that no company that is above board is going to ask you for any personal identifying information over the phone or via email. Even if you get a request to sign into a patient portal or the like the business sending you the invite to register will tell you ahead of time…in person…at their office.

So be careful and take care of you when it comes to sharing information. I am not sure the best way to stop unsolicited offers but if you have ideas please add them to the comments section below.


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