Your Medicare card shows your social security number.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services still uses that all-important nine-digit number.  The Department of Defense, many private insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans, and Veterans Affairs have already taken steps to remove social security numbers from their cards, though. Just think about how many places you’ve been asked for the last four digits of your social security number to identify yourself.  Here are three ways to help prevent identity theft.
Reduce Chances of Losing Your Medicare Card
When you lose a credit card and report it, you are assigned a different credit card number and issued a replacement card immediately.  Since it has your social security number on it, losing your Medicare card is more serious, though.  If you only carry it when need to use it at a doctor’s office or hospital, you can reduce the likelihood of losing it or of it being stolen.
Of course, you’ll need to keep it somewhere secure at home, too.  That means somewhere small grandkids aren’t likely to find it and burglars are not likely to search for valuables.
Carry a Copy of Your Medicare Card
You may also want to carry a photocopy of your Medicare card with the last four numbers blacked out or cut off while leaving the letter after that number visible.  The non-profit group Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says most of the medical providers they asked agreed that would be acceptable if you complete their forms by giving them the rest of the number.
Confirm Who’s Asking for Your Social Security Number
Since they are so valuable, criminals come up with different ways to get social security numbers.  If someone calls you and asks for identifying information like your social security number, bank account number, etc., just call the company back and ask to speak with the person who called you.  That way you know you are talking to a legitimate representative.
Personnel at banks and similar companies often accept other ways of identifying yourself now, too.  Sometimes, they ask for the amount of the last deposit you made in a checking account, or something similar that only you would know.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit