With all the talk about identity theft today, I’m amazed that people still carry their Medicare cards around with Social Security numbers printed right on them. This really worries me. Especially, when I hear so many horror stories about just how low thieves will sink to take advantage of people – especially the elderly.
In fact, just the other day, an elderly woman had her identity stolen by her own son while she was sick in the hospital. Elderly people make great targets for identity theft because they tend to have cleaner, longer credit histories and are less likely to monitor their credit reports regularly. They are generally less computer savvy so they don’t check their reports online. Also, as they age they are less likely to make large purchases that require credit checks such as a new car or house.
If you have a loved one who is aging, talk to them about identity theft. Remind them to never give personal information over the phone or to someone who comes to their door uninvited. If they travel regularly, make sure they have someone collect their mail or have the United States Postal Service® put it on hold when they’re away. Finally, always make sure they have a safe place to keep all of their important documents.
As for Medicare cards, there’s a real simple solution. Make a copy of the card and black out the Social Security numbers. That way, you have the card in case you need it but you protect yourself in case you ever lose it or have your wallet stolen.