On Wednesday night I, along with millions of others, watched transfixed as former President Bill Clinton delivered his prime time speech to the Democratic convention.
Yet, at one point during the speech I become mortified. It wasn’t over anything the former President said. A video camera had cut away to an image of an elderly woman proudly holding her Medicaid card up in the air, her emotional response to Clinton’s defense of his party’s Medicare reforms.
But in her excitement she probably forgot that the front of the card bore her name, enrollment date and social security number, all available for millions of people to see. It didn’t help the situation when the camera panned back to her yet another time.
The video footage, which appeared on multiple stations, become known as the “Medicare card moment”. And unfortunately for this convention go-er, her few minutes of misplaced exuberance will force her to put a security alert on her credit report and spend hours monitoring her financial accounts.
But, truth be told, we all suffer similar lapses of vigilance. In the age of camera phones this can be especially hazardous. How many of use needlessly carry our social security cards in our wallets, providing thieves the opportunity to snap a picture when we open it?
Shoulder surfers are notorious for standing in grocery store lines in order to secretly take pictures of customers filling out their checks. The routing number, account number, and other personal information found on the check are often all they need to plunder the victim’s bank account.
And even innocuous request for information can send us tumbling down the road to ID theft hell. When asked to supply your social security number on a doctor’s form, employment application, or insurance form, do you automatically comply? Consider how many people may come into contact with the paperwork. Ask if you really do need to supply your full social security number? Often just a few digits of your social security number will suffice.
Identity theft is everywhere. That’s why, now more than ever, it pays to guard against “Medicare card moments”.
BMWK, have you ever had a lapse in judgement protecting your vital information? Have you ever been a victim of identity theft?