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In this day and age, when you think of identity theft you automatically think about computers and losing your personal information over the web, but there are of course many other ways you could have your identity stolen. Aside from computers, the easiest way to have your identity stolen is through the use of physical media like your driver’s license, Social Security card, or your Medicare card, and this is why one Senator is fighting to have Social Security numbers removed from important documents.
The fight for change
If you carry your Social Security card around with you and you have your wallet, or purse stolen then the thief would easily be able to steal your identity. Most people now leave their SS cards at home, but what about the millions of people who are currently on Medicare?
Citizens who currently participate in the Medicare program have to carry around their Medicare card with them. The Medicare card has each users Social Security number printed on the card, which is obviously a major cause for concern. Luckily one Senator has seen the light, and they are now working towards changing this.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (Democrat from New York) is seeking to prohibit the use of Social Security numbers on Medicare cards. Senator Gillibrand is shocked that the Medicare cards still have patients Social Security numbers, and dates of birth on them. Gillibrand said that use of Social Security numbers on the Medicare cards puts millions of people at a majorly enhanced risk when it comes to identity theft, and she is hoping that the new bill will put an end to the use of Social Security numbers on the cards.
A new plan for protection
Many believe that Social Security numbers are over used, and that they are being used beyond their intended purpose. There are currently 33 states that prohibit the the use of Social Security numbers on insurance cards, because they simply are not needed for patients to receive treatment.
The new legislation which is called the Social Security Number Protection Act, would make it so that Social Security numbers could not be used on a federal level. This means that newer Medicare cards would not have the personal identification numbers on them, which would also mean that millions of people on the medicare program could carry their Medicare cards without having to worry about getting their social security number stolen.
Social Security numbers are invaluable to both you, and to identity thieves because they act as personal identification. When your personal identification number is used with your date of birth, thieves could easily open credit cards, or get other lines of credit with your information, and your good name will quickly turn sour. This is why Senator Gillibrand is pushing this issue.
What can you do to protect yourself?
If you are on Medicare, and are worried about carrying the card around with you, there is something you can do to protect your identity.
If you have access to a scanner, or photocopier, simply make a copy of both sides of the medicare card. Grab some scissors and cut the copies out of the paper. Carefully cut the last four digits of your social security number out of the card and discard them. Then glue the front of the card to the copy of the back.
Now you have a copy of your Medicare card that does not have your entire Social Security number on it. You can carry this card around with you knowing that if you lose, or have your purse, or wallet stolen, nobody will have access to your full Social Security number. You will still be able to receive treatment when presenting this card at hospitals and current doctors, even though the last four digits are missing. You will just have to tell the health provider the last four.
Keep your real Medicare card (or any important document) in a safe place, like a fire proof safe in your home. The only time you will have to take the Medicare card out with you is when you visit a doctor for the first time. Follow these simple steps and be one step ahead of the identity thieves.