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Medicare officials aim to prevent identity theft with new cards for recipients

Monterey County Medicare recipients will soon have to shred their old Medicare cards.

Changes are being made to prevent identity theft.

The old Medicare cards used to contain a recipient’s social security number, something a card holder told KION they were not happy about.

“Before you had to be really careful where you put your card, who you give it to and make sure it’s not stolen because it has your information on it,” says Medicare recipient John Asaad.

Asaad says he felt uncomfortable holding his Medicare card knowing his social security number was on the very front of it.

However, that was the old version of the Medicare cards.

The new cards will have a unique Medicare identification number instead of the social security number. This is meant to curb identity theft of Medicare customers across the nation, including the 65-thousand in Monterey County.

Medicare staff say they’re hoping to address concerns involving Medicare fraud which targets its customers.

Deputy Regional Administrator for California Medicare Cate Kortzeborn says “The more that we can cut down on fraud the less money gets paid out in those scams and will be used to provide medical insurance for elderly and disabled people.”

Despite the added safety, there’s still some tips to keep in mind to keep your identity safe.

Senior Medicare patrol, Melissa Raya said, “I do suggest you still take care of your card even though it no longer has your social security number and protect it just as you would a credit card. You can still be targeted even though it’s a Medicare number and not a social security number.”

Raya says beneficiaries should also never give their information out over the phone and that these cards are free to customers.

The Monterey County District Attorney’s office says the penalty for committing Medicare fraud is a maximum of five years in prison.

If you’re on Medicare and have not received a card don’t worry, it is on the way.

Right now there are more than 5 million new cards being issued across the state so it may take some time.

Click Here for more information about this change.

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