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There have been many posts here on the very important topic of Identity Theft, but I've noticed that one vital point doesn't seem to come up.
We all know (or should know!), that we never, never should carry a social security card in our wallets. Social Security numbers should be committed to memory. Additionally, we know (or should know!) to never give out our social security number over the phone, or to anyone unless we're 100% sure that it's necessary under certain circumstances.
With that in mind, I wonder how many people are carrying their social security numbers right now. Yep, I'll bet you that some people are reading this post while their SS #'s are sitting right inside their wallets.
Perhaps. But I'm not talking about Social Security cards. I'm talking about health insurance cards and/or prescription cards.
Do you have a health insurance card in your wallet right now? If so, I urge you to stop reading this post for a moment, and go find that card to see what your identification number is.
Back? Good! Is your identification number the same as your social security number? If not, you're safe, and that's great. (You might want to just double check all of the important cards in your wallet while you're at it. It couldn't hurt.)
Many, many health insurance companies identify their customers by their social security numbers (mine is one of them). You need to present this card when you go to a doctor's office, hospital, and sometimes a pharmacy in the case of prescription cards. Health insurance companies have been urged to change this form of identifying customers, but they have been very slow in addressing change with this, and this is indeed a major problem--a catch 22--when you know the worst thing you can do is make this number accessible.
So what can you do?
First, call your insurance company and let them know that you do not want to be carrying this number around due to the dangers of identity fraud. In many cases, the company will be responsive and will issue you a new card with a new number. It's not a difficult problem for them to solve, and a simple phone call may be all you need.
If your company is reluctant to help with this, or to make a change, don't pull your hair out. Instead, pull your card out of your wallet and make a Photostat of the card with the number blacked out. Then, put the card in a very safe and secure place where it won't be carried with you.
When you need to provide your card, just provide your Photostatted copy, and provide your number at the time it's needed. No one will turn you away for not having the card, as you're still providing proof of coverage. Even if there was a problem, the health care provider needs only to call the number of your insurance company for verification.
This is a very important thing to take care of for your own protection, and will be yet another aid to you in the prevention of identity theft.
Hope this was useful!
...but I still am...
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