Every year over 2 million seniors fall victim to identity theft for a whopping total of $36 billion. In an effort to help lessen the means of theft used by these criminals, Medicare is taking all social security numbers off it's benefits cards. They will be replaced with new unique numbers that are designed to be unique and protect private health care and financial information, as well as federal health care benefit and service payments.
These new cards will mail the new cards out between April 2018 and April 2019, but in the meantime it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Here are 6 tips to help keep your identity safe!
- Hang up the phone – If someone calls asking for personal or financial information, do not feel obligated to provide it. It’s OK to hang up. If the person claims to be with your bank or credit card company, you can always call the number you have for them.
- Type in the URL yourself – Don’t click on email links or open email attachments, even if the message appears to be from your bank or credit card company. Doing so may put your personal information or your computer at risk. If you’re inclined to visit the website, type in the URL that you have for the business.
- Use direct deposit – Have Social Security and other benefit checks deposited directly into your bank account. This helps protect them from being stolen.
- Be wary of family – Over 90 percent of all reported elder abuse is committed by the older person’s own family, most often by their adult children. Make sure those you trust are trustworthy.
- Review your statements – It pays to regularly review your bank, credit card and other statements, looking for unfamiliar transactions. If you see something that doesn’t look right, call right away.
- Shred documents – Bank statements, healthcare records, and other papers with personal information should be shredded before you discard them. Make it as difficult as you can for identity thieves to take advantage of you.