The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday evening to make it more difficult for identity thieves to target seniors. H.R. 1509, the "Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2012," established cost-efficient procedures to keep Medicare recipients Social Security numbers from being accessed on their Medicare cards.
"This measure we helped push through the House Ways & Means Committee has one main goal -- protect vulnerable seniors from identity thieves," said Texas Congressman Kevin Brady, a co-sponsor of the bill. "Currently more than 50 million Medicare cards display the recipient's full Social Security number. By removing this number from being displayed, coded or embedded on Medicare cards we can make it harder for ID thieves to steal senior's retirement savings and good credit."
This bipartisan bill, funded through the Medicare Improvement Fund, has 50 cosponsors and requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study moving to "smart card technology" for Medicare beneficiary cards and provider membership cards.
"Millions of Americans have experienced the invasion of privacy that is ID Theft, including over a million senior citizens," added Brady. "President Bush directed all federal agencies to develop plans to reduce the use of Social Security numbers. Medicare is a program that has repeatedly passed on making changes to protect its nearly 50 million senior recipients. This bill changes that direction."