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Letter: A Tip for Protecting Identity Theft

It was disappointing (and surprising) that Steve Israel’s letter about his “Telephone town hall with senior citizens in my district to share tips on how they can protect themselves from these (identity theft) scams” did not include the following tip (which I read somewhere)—-which will allow people to keep your Medicare card with you at all times without risking some identity thief obtaining their Social Security number if their Medicare card ever becomes lost or stolen. By following this tip, seniors will not have to worry that keeping their Medicare card for medical emergencies will make them more vulnerable to financial fraud or identity theft.

The tip is to simply cover the Social Security number on your actual Medicare card with a very thin strip of paper cut off of an adhesive Post-It note. Then make a photocopy of the temporarily-numberless card. Leave the real card at home or in your bank safe deposit box, and carry the safe photocopy around in your wallet or purse. It should be acceptable in any doctor’s office or other medical facility; and if you are asked for your Social Security number, you can always tell the medical personnel what your number is.

Richard Siegelman