One of the most common misconceptions about credit reports is that a creditor cannot report you if they do not have your social security number. Not only is this false, but it is also more likely than you think that they actually do have your social security number.

To help clear the air a bit in that respect, let’s take a few minutes to break down exactly how this misconception came about and what the facts look like in reality.

The Most Common Case

While the concept of not having a social security number to go with a debt applies across a broad spectrum of liabilities, the most common example given involves an outstanding hospital bill.

There seem to be a number of people who have been treated at hospitals across the country without providing their nine-digit tax ID number, which can make things a bit tougher on the agencies in charge of collecting those debts when they turn into past-due liabilities.

At this point, many debtors believe that they are off the hook since the hospital did not do its due diligence in collecting their information. But this is almost never true.

What Credit Bureaus Need

The key fact to understand here is that a social security number is not a requirement to report a delinquent debt to one of the major credit bureaus.

In fact, the only information that is required by the credit reporting agencies is a full name, the amount owed, and an address that was provided when the debt was incurred. Using just that information, the credit bureaus will attempt to assign every debt to a person that is already in their system.

One Problem With Missing SSNs

Of course, it is important to remember that social security numbers are unique to each individual, but first and last names are certainly not. This makes it entirely possible for credit bureaus to mistakenly assign debts that are being reported without social security numbers to the wrong individuals.

If this happens, the individuals who are incorrectly charged with an outstanding debt can often get it removed quickly be simply following through the bureaus’ processes for challenging credit report blemishes.

Credit Report Information

It is also worth noting that a creditor who wasn’t provided with a social security number could have obtained it in another way. In many cases, debtors consent to having their credit checked and the creditors are able to pull the social security number right from the report when it comes back.

For that reason, it is never a good idea to assume that you will not be held accountable for a debt.

Whether you are looking to work the system or simply searching for loopholes to repair your credit as fast as possible, assuming that a debt won’t become a problem simply because you failed to provide the creditor with a social security number is going to come back to haunt you.  In most cases, the debt is going to be reported against you anyway, so the best approach is always going to be settling your outstanding accounts before it gets to that point.