Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Readers incensed that Medicare uses Social Security number for identification


Special to The Miami Herald

Well, readers, you certainly all gave me lots to read after last week’s column on ID Theft. Below I am sharing some of the emails because everyone had the same issue: Medicare numbers. For years I have spoken out as to why on Earth is Medicare still using our Social Security number as our Medicare identification.

Let’s contact our representatives in Congress to change this. After all, Florida is the “capital of fraud,” so I would think they would want to do something to correct this problem?

Dear Carmen:

Sadly, I have had to deal with a lot of ID theft as it relates to Social Security numbers and fraudulent tax returns. It is, in fact, a real mess.

Most of what you wrote in your article was good, sound advice. However, Medicare still uses Social Security numbers as ID. The number is right there on the Medicare card. You would not tell people to leave their health insurance cards at home, because that is exactly when you would need it. So how can you suggest that the entire senior population leave their Medicare cards at home?

Now that I am a member of that segment of the population, that issue bothers me even more. Why can't Medicare switch to a different ID system? I believe most of the other insurance carriers have already done that.

Alan Goldberg

Dear Ms. Caldwell,

I just finished reading your article in today's Neighbors. It is excellent advice but there is one glaring problem with not carrying your personally identifying information with you — everyone’s Medicare number is ones Social Security number. How dumb is that?

I have argued with the Social Security Administration with absolutely no success. Perhaps you and your organization can help.

Howard Canton


I just finished reading your article in today's Miami Herald and found it to be very informative. Maybe you can answer this question for all of us seniors. Your column recommended that I never carry my Social Security card with me.

But a few months ago, I became eligible for Medicare and what is everyone’s ID number on their Medicare cards, which they must carry with them for proof of coverage? It is their Social Security number. So what do we do now? And really, does that make any sense? Why would the government use that method of identification for seniors who are probably at greater risk for identity theft anyway?

I would love to read something about this and the reasoning behind it and what we should do about carrying our Medicare card? Thank you and keep writing such helpful articles.

Linda Vick

Dear Ms. Caldwell:

It's all well and good for us to leave our Social Security cards at home, but our Medicare cards have that number on it, and we can't very well leave them at home.

I feel that in your capacity you have the soapbox to start a movement towards safety in our pockets. I appreciated your article in Neighbors.

Molle Grad

Next week I will furnish you with contact information for your representatives in Congress.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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