New protection for Social Security numbers may be on the way
You may know that theft of Social Security numbers (SSN) among seniors often happens because thieves go after your Medicare cards. Experts say, never carry your Social Security card with you, to prevent theft of your SSN. But your SSN is printed on your Medicare card, which we are told we should carry.
Thieves know this.
For ages Americans have been asking our government to remove that critical number from the Medicare card, but to no avail. It looks like someone might finally be listening. With the rise of cyber-attacks involving medical records, federal investigators are beseeching the government to remove the numbers from Medicare cards. It’s not official yet, but it is backed by both sides in Congress and President Obama has requested funding to get it done.
Like everything else in life, it will cost money, but 4,500 people sign up for Medicare every day, and by 2025, Medicare enrollment could reach 74 million. The recent loss of data in the Anthem data breach exposed up to 80 million SSNs. By removing these critical numbers from Medicare cards, maybe we can stem the flow of information to thieves. It’s about time for a change.
In the meantime: While we wait for the wheels of government to make a sensible change like removing the SSNs from our Medicare cards, you should know, you do not have to carry your card with you. And if you do feel you need to carry it, here’s an alternative that will protect your SSN. Make a copy and put the original in a safe place at home. On the copy, black out or better yet, cut out the SSN. You could leave the last four digits visible if it makes you more comfortable to do that. Your regular doctors likely have your numbers on file already, and in an emergency, a hospital can locate your Medicare information.