New Medicare cards to protect your identity

The government started sending out new Medicare cards, launching a massive, yearlong effort to alter how 59 million people enrolled in the federal health insurance program are identified. Historically, Medicare ID cards have been stamped with the Social Security numbers of members. But that has been problematic: If a wallet or purse is stolen, a thief can use that information, along with an address or birthdate on a driver’s license, to steal someone’s identity.

The new cards address such concerns by removing each member’s Social Security number and replacing it with a new, randomly generated, 11-digit “Medicare number” (some capital letters are included). It will be used to verify eligibility for services and for billing purposes going forward.

Source: Orange County Register and www.medicare.gov

What’s in Your Wallet?

If you have a Medicare card in your wallet, you should think about making a copy of it and carrying that instead. Your Medicare account number is your Social Security number, so you are at risk of identity theft if it is found or taken by someone malicious. But of course, you need to carry your Medicare card because the ID serves as the proof of insurance. In order to protect your identity, you must make a photocopy of your Medicare card and black out or cut out the last four digits of the ID numbers. This way, if you need to use your Medicare card, you can give them the photo copy and provide them with the last four digits verbally (if able). According to AARP, the one or two additional letters or numbers after your SSN/ID is used to identify the type of beneficiary you are. But they have stated that it does not matter if you leave in or decide to remove those ending letters and numbers on your photocopy of the card.

If you have any credit cards, debit cards, licenses, etc., you should also think about making photocopies of them, and keeping those copies at home. It helps to write down the phone numbers you need to call in case you misplace the cards or if they are stolen. In addition, you should go through your wallet and see what you are carrying around every day. Chances are, you don’t need to be carrying all the cards in your wallet. It helps to have an organized wallet and an organized record of your photocopies, so that you know what to do if you misplace them or if they are stolen.

Resources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-leave-home-without-this-card/2016/01/14/cd01e808-b576-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html?utm_term=.b03f139c3e41

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-copy-this-to-cut-down-theft/2016/02/12/a659a534-cb7d-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html?utm_term=.5b61b937a7f0

http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-07-2012/medicare-card-identity-theft.html