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 Legislation passed by Congress and signed into law in 2015 requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin the process of issuing new Medicare cards that do not display Social Security numbers. The law requires HHS to issue modernized cards to new Medicare beneficiaries within four years, and issue new cards to existing beneficiaries within an additional four years.

As this process will occur over a lengthy period of time, senior citizens need to continue to be wary of the risk for Social Security number theft and fraud. With a stolen Social Security card number, thieves can commit numerous financial crimes in the victim’s name or against the victim himself.

Senior citizens who continue to hold a Medicare card with their Social Security number as an identifier should strongly consider taking these preventive steps to safeguard this personal identifying information:

  • Consider making a wallet sized photo copy of your Medicare card and cut out all but the last four digits of your social security number. This should be sufficient for coverage verification purposes.
  • Unless you are visiting a new health care provider, you should not necessarily carry your Medicare card around with you. Store it safely in your home. If you must carry your card, put in an opaque cardholder to ensure your card details are not visible.

As a general rule, seniors and all U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to verify the legitimacy of anyone who claims to be from the Social Security Administration or who seeks any personal identifying information. Contact Social Security’s nationwide toll-free customer service line at 800-772-1213. Deaf or hard-of-hearing citizens may call Social Security’s TTY number at 800-325-0778. Visit the Social Security Administration website at https://www.ssa.gov/.

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