On Your Side Alert: Protecting your Medicare card from crooks

On Your Side Alert: Protecting your Medicare card from crooks

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you're nearing the age of 65, then you probably know you will soon be eligible for Medicare. What you many not know is that the number on your card is identical to your Social Security Number. A viewer Called 12 after making the discovery and wanted to alert others.

Delores Nix says when she received her Medicare card in the mail, her jaw dropped. "I looked at it and I am going, 'This is my Social Security Number. Why would my Social Security Number be on this card?'" she says.

Nix says a recent run-in with criminals rattled her nerves even more.

"We had just had our credit card stolen. The card number was taken from a waitress in restaurant and I am like, 'OK, you have to got to make sure every bill comes in, you got to look at this and now here is the Medicare card with this on it,'" she explains.

Nix is not alone. The AARP says many turning 65 are shocked to see their Social Security Number on their card. Ginger Thompson with AARP Virginia says it's been a constant push by her's and other agencies, like the Social Security Administration to change the number on the cards.

"For 50 years, your Social Security Number has been your Medicare number," she says.

On its website,  AARP provides helpful tips to how you can keep your card number safe and out of the hands of criminals. The agency recommends you photocopy your Medicare card, and then cut out the last four  digits of your Social. Once you've made the changes, put the original card in a safe place and carry the photocopy with you for doctors visits.

"I can't believe that the government hasn't step forward with the seniors to protect us," Nix says.

For concerned Medicare recipients like Nix, there is a bit of a victory: President Obama recently signed a bill that requires The Department of Health and Human Services to issue new cards that don't display Social Security numbers. The agency has four years to issue the updated cards to new beneficiaries, and four more years to get them to existing recipients.

"It's not just about changing a number on a card, it's about changing systems, and that does take a while and costs some money," Thompson says.

It is welcome news for Nix, but she's wishes the change would have been made before she turned 65.

"We look at our legislators, and some are really over 65... they should notice that their Social Security Number is on their Medicare card and they should have brought this up and taken care of it," she says.

If you think your Medicare card has been compromised, report to Medicare right away. To stay on top of the latest schemes you can sign up for AARP's Fraud Watch Network alerts.


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