By Sandra Reams This article is a part of the September/October 2017, Volume 29, Volume 5, Audiology Today issue. Unfortunately, identity theft is something that we all need to think about these days. Medical identity theft is defined by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) as when someone steals personal information such as a name, a social security number, or a Medicare number and uses it to obtain medical care, purchase drugs, or submit fake claims to Medicare. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that identity theft of the elderly increased to 2.6 million people in 2014. Some of us are old enough to remember when it was common to see our social security numbers on our driver’s licenses. Now, that is an outdated practice. With the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are now required to remove the social security numbers from the cards of their beneficiaries. This initiative falls under the “Protecting the Integrity of Medicare” provision of the MACRA law. This is an important measure because individuals are advised by CMS to always carry their member cards with them. Having social security numbers on Medicare cards opens seniors up for identity theft if their wallet is lost or stolen. Along with prohibiting the use of social security numbers on Medicare cards, there is also language in MACRA for CMS to consider the use of smart cards. This serves to fight against medical identity theft for people with Medicare, and to help protect both essential Medicare funding (by reducing fraudulent claims) and private health care and financial information of the beneficiaries. This process is something that has been asked of CMS for more than a decade. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!