Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ID Theft Prevention involving Medicare

Identity thieves generally target vulnerable segments
of our population such as senior citizens, students,
and the military.

Your parents or related senior citizens who utilize
Medicare are especially targets for identity theft.

Here's one major reason why - the identification
number on their Medicare card is their Social Security
number (SSN)
.

With an estimated 42 million Americans now, the
federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
issues more cards with Social Security numbers than
any other agency except for the Social Security
Administration.

Over the next 25 years, as the baby boom generation
continues to age, that 42 million Medicare card number
is likely to swell to over 70 million.

So, while most private health insurance companies have
already adopted using alternative or random numbers in
place of using the SSN, Medicare still has not
announced any plans to change their consumer card
policy due to the projected cost of $100 million.

Until Congress or multiple state legislation forces a
change, Medicare being a U.S. federal agency will
continue to issue and maintain their cards with social
security numbers printed on them.

Our tip for today is for those senior citizens you
know is to carry their Medicare card in their wallet
or purse only when going to a doctor's appointment or
when it's absolutely required. Protect that Medicare card just
like it was a credit card by using only sparingly and
questioning anyone who requests it.

If that senior citizen you love suspects their
identity is being misused, call 1-800-MEDICARE
(1-800-633-4227) . TTY users should call
1-877-486-2048 or the Fraud Hotline of the H.H.S.
Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

Post portions excerpted from LA Times.

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