How do you know you’re watching television with a Consumerist editor? Our commenters will probably formulate all kinds of punchlines for that setup, but last night, I was half paying attention to former President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on CNN when I happened to see an elderly supporter waving her Medicare card at the camera. Her name and Social Security number were completely legible. “We can read her card! Stop showing that!” I shouted at the TV. The people on the television never listen to personal finance bloggers who are shouting at them.
Clinton was talking about Medicare, you see, and she was waving her card to show her support. Putting that number out there puts her financial identity at risk. The people over at Credit.com noticed this mistake, too.
Even the government thinks putting Social Security Numbers out there more than they need to be is a bad idea: just a few weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office suggested using different numbers to identify Medicare recipients, or obscuring part of the number on Medicare cards in the future.
So what should you do if your own Social Security Number is breached, even if it’s not on television in front of millions? Call the credit monitoring agencies to put an initial security alert on your file. Use AnnualCreditReport.com to review your files, and immediately report anything suspicious to the credit bureaus and to your local police.