Protecting Your Social Security Number from Identity Theft

indentity theftEvery year, millions of Americans become victims of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personally identifiable information and pretends to be you. They can use this information to open bank or credit card accounts, file taxes, or make new purchases in your name.  

It is important that you take steps to protect your Social Security number from theft. If someone obtains your Social Security number, they can use it to get other personal information about you, including your bank or credit information. Someone can steal your Social Security number by:

  • Stealing your wallet, purse, or mail;
  • Obtaining personal information you provide to an unsecured site on the Internet;
  • Rummaging through your trash; or
  • Posing by phone or email as someone who needs information about you.

If someone asks for your number, you should ask why, how it will be used, and what will happen if you refuse. Make sure you give your employer and your financial institution(s) your correct Social Security number, so your records and tax information are accurate.

To minimize the risk of identity theft, keep your Social Security card and any other documents that show your Social Security number in a safe place. Do not carry your Social Security card or other documents with you that display your number unless you need them.

If you suspect someone’s using your Social Security number for work purposes, report the problem to us immediately by contacting the Federal Trade Commission. We will review your earnings with you to ensure our records are accurate. You may also verify your earnings on your Social Security Statement. You can get your Statement online by opening a personal my Social Security account.

If someone misused your Social Security number to create credit or other problems for you, immediately go to and report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Their website provides detailed information to help you defend against identity theft. You can reach them by phone by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261.

You may also want to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and file an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Safeguarding your identity and Social Security is of the utmost importance. If you think you’re a victim of identity theft, please act now. For more information, read our publication Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number or visit us online.


90 thoughts on “Protecting Your Social Security Number from Identity Theft

    • You saying something always I have already
      social security number ? that again, I was never get it, your social security Number. because I couldn’t have any credit card, and any
      loan, buy something by credit, and for pay something I must.. all this without Social number I couldn’t anything.
      why so difficult have it for me?! only 4 digital number they want.. I must do something for donation,I really wanted also, but I cannot use my debit card..I have a issue .. because so need have a credit card… for solve to all..

    • Disability Rate of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

      Congress must ultimately legislate the Old Age Survivor Disability Insurance (OASDI) tax rate – 2.4% 2016, 2.3% 2017, and 2.2% in 2018 when the disability rate stabilizes after the retirement of all the Baby Boomers. The temporary 2.37% DI tax rate 2016-19 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 is not right. Preventing a premature deficit in the OASI Trust Fund by terminating the temporary 2.37% tax rate in 2019 and reverting to the insufficient current rate of 1.8% fails to bias the tax rate to protect the smaller DI trust fund from abuse. The 2.37% rate alleviates the threat of depletion of the disability trust fund and consequential reduction of benefits. The 2.37% rate does not divide nicely in half for employees and employers and cannot be legislated for everyone’s Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) pay-stub. The 2.37% rate is insufficient in 2016 to pay the 3% Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) from January 1, 2016. The 2.37% rate is more than is needed in 2017 when savings will be achieved with a tax rate of only 2.3%, going down to 2.2% in 2018, when the disability trust fund again shows a deficit and around 2021 is the first trust fund to be depleted. The disability tax rate needs to express the actual cost of disability with a slight bias to protect the smaller disability trust fund from being prematurely depleted.

      Because of the insufficiency of the 2.37% rate to afford beneficiaries a COLA in 2016 the 2.37% DI tax rate in the Bipartisan Budget Act must pay a 6% COLA in 2017 and 3% COLA every year thereafter. The less expensive and more economically sustainable alternative to a 6% COLA 2017 is a lump-sum back payment for a 3% COLA 2016 and a 3% COLA from current 2015-16 rates in 2017. The ungarnishable backpayment and 3% COLA might promote sustainable economic growth more than a 6% COLA for less. Other settlements that do not make the 3% COLA law must be interpreted as expressions of insolvency. SSA may choose to pay 6% COLA because it is easier and there is enough money either of the two ways the DI tax rate is accounted. All SSA needs to do is agree to pay 3% annual COLA, including the one they failed to pay in 2016, as a matter of law.

      The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 also recidivated by providing special funding for unnecessary disability redetermination propaganda to deprive beneficiaries of their subsistence. The Actuary robbed some people. The information collection form used by psychologists who are normally hired by these congressional campaigns to deprive the people of their subsistence ask Congress only to be abolished under Paperwork Reduction Act -If the collection of information by the agency is unnecessary for any reason, the agency may not engage in the collection of information under 44USC§3508. Disability Determination Services (DDS) are federally funded agencies in every state to whom are sent applications made to local SSA offices. DDS pays for any medical visits they require for their determination. The Internal Revenues Service (IRS) determines monthly substantial gainful income (SGA) amount for statutorily blind individuals for 2016 is $1820. For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2016 is $1130. There is a trial-work period of nine months to provide beneficiaries with incentive to get back to work. The federal poverty line for one person is $990 a month.

      • How in the World could the Fed Poverty line be $990 per month?! – That is Insane! – 5-years ago it was over $14,000 per year. – What is Congress doing – besides Nothing?! – The Poverty line for an Individual should be at least $1,400 per month minimum!! – And Congress should try to live on $1,400 per month. – What a JOKE our Fed government IS !!

    • How u apply. It on line with out. Pymt with thm . Put a lock on ur with sum uno know ur by heart put on his joint in come tax with out ur permission . Theft by taken s.s. no . Under my name w . Wrong b.dob .sum time last yr. Like have a block on it . So nobody cant get it . With out mina permission first.

  1. So why does medicare print social security number on their id card? Isn’t there some other account number that could be used?

    • I agree with this. How often are you asked for this? If you don’t carry it with you, what happens in case you need emergency treatment?

    • It’s a crazy thing. I got my Medicare card and it said “carry this card with you when you go out’. I agree with everyone on this comment that it does not make sense for the government to tell you to keep the information private and then at the same time tell you to carry it with you. Hoping for a change to the card!

    • I agree! Like many others, I was surprised to see my SS# used as my Medicare #. Sadly, I doubt we’ll see a change, since this has been the way it’s worked for years and I’m sure it’s been commented on for as long as that.

    • Ditto, most states and other places have switched to “linked” numbers but not the SS number, why can’t medicare be more protective?


    • Because Social Security messed up when they printed everyone’s social security numbers on Medicare Cards.
      However, it will take Social Security millions of dollars to give everyone new numbers for their Medicare cards and they don’t want to spend the money.
      So I guess we are stuck with possibility of someone working in a doctor’s office from copying down the numbers, etc.
      Social Security shouldn’t preach to the choir about securing your numbers.

      • I don’t know if this is to me or not, but I did try diligently to report and Identity Theft Report in my hometown where it actually occurred. I was hung up on over and over by police offices that should know better. But I was recently informed by a family member they don’t believe it. Well, there you go people that don’t visit with you or talk to you more than once per year when they want to get in your private affairs. I don’t know what to do because I went from a beautiful warm and comfortable home to nothing. I have very clothes, no winter ones, a blanket some man gave me that smells of smoke and I have no money to go have it laundered well enough to rid the blanket of the smell but it does keep me a little warmer. I am very heartbroken that having as many family members with nice homes, plenty of money, clothing, food, and any and all extras that they have no regard to whether or not I even have a hot meal. Unbelievable. I did not cause my theft, some very unkind indiviuals decided because they did not like me that they would do what they could to destroy my life. Way to go, they all draw SSI disability benefits, because they are too fat and lazy to work. No one gives a hoot whether I was alive or dead and have nothing left but this broken computer and broken desk I got out of the trash. Please help before I am homeless once again.

    • i am 73 years old and i have been asking that same question for many years. i was in the hospital last august in north florida and my information was giving without my permission to cancer company and my idenitity along with others was stolen from this cancer center . i have never been to these drs.

      • Hi Marg. Generally, reports and investigations of identity theft are handled by the Federal Trade Commission. You can find more information in their website: Or you can call them at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

  2. The IRS is in the process of redacting all Social Security Numbers for all correspondence. There is no reason why the SSA cannot do the same. What is the reason the SSA has not taken this obvious step to secure our information?

    • Very good point. Similar to credit card account statements, only the last four numbers of the account should be stated: xxx_xx_1234

  3. The one real concern I have always had is the information provided to doctor’s offices. The turnover in receptionists and the number of persons having access to personal files makes me wonder just how safe is my social security number.
    It is even printed on the Medicare card.

    • Mr. Wicker makes a very good point! Employees in medical offices, clinics, hospitals, dental facilities, etc. are not bonded. Any one of them could take a patient’s private information @ any time.
      I also have heard of these places disposing of records improperly, leaving all this patient info available for the taking to anyone who happens upon it.
      Wake up insurance companies and Medicare! Please find a better way of identification!!!!

    • Very true. The only way to protect this widely used number is to prohibit anyone from even asking for it other than legally obligated financial or governmental institutions that are required for reporting purposes.

    • We understand your concern. Under current law, Medicare providers need to know your Social Security number in order to provide you the benefits to which you are entitled. Generally, they only have to see and verify your Medicare card at the time they provide initial medical services. The Medicare program, including Medicare cards, is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Here are some suggestions to keep your personal information safe while using your Medicare card.

  4. All well and good, but I have Medicare. Every time I go to a doctor I have to supply my Medicare number, which is basically my Social Security number. There goes my SS# confidentiality.
    My identity was already stolen a couple of years ago ,I think at a health care facility. I will have to deal with the consequences of that for the rest of my life.
    I do take appropriate precautions to protect my SS#, so until you can separate my Medicare ID from my SS ID, please don’t talk to me about taking precautions.

  5. Thank you for this important information, I will keep a copy of the tel. nos. and websites you made available. I was wondering why every letter I received from the IRS; whether just follow up info., or instructions, all have my full social security number on it. Why is that? With identity thieves stealing mail, a IRS letter would be a prize to look for. Perhaps the SS no. should be shortened to the last 4 digits.

  6. I am over 75 now and during all these years I have noticed that SS# of anybody is so easy to steal. We know office workers in many types of offices can steal them. I heard that call centers of US Banks located in south asian countries have been hacked and information was compromised. The workers then sold packets of 1000 #s or 5000 #s at dollar each . There has to be a better way for SS Admins to safeguard the numbers.

  7. I don’t show my Medicare card at doctors’ offices because my Medicare HMO issues its own card that I must use for doctors’ visits. Nonetheless, they still want my SS number also. On the SS card it says it’s not to be used for identification purposes. The HMO handles all billing and payments–not Medicare! If need be, I have both a State and City picture ID card.

  8. SS#s are in most public records (courts, deeds etc.) and easy to steal. There is no way to really protect it when every medical facility, employer and government agency has it then you have to call it out to these same places many times whenever you need to work with them.

  9. Good idea Lucy, I think you are on the right track!! I too agree that there are way too many ways where our number is exposed, 4 digits would be much easier. Thanks

  10. I believe the fact that social security numbers appear on Medicare cards makes them more vulnerable. I don’t carry my social security card, but do carry my Medicare card in case of medical emergencies

  11. The problem with the social security number was that it was created for just one agency to use….hence the name. The “world” discovered it was the perfect unique identifier. I doubt the agency granted permission for everyone else to use it. If it was used by one agency it would barely (if at all) be a problem. That is why Social Security does not handle non-agency ID theft issues using the number per its web pages-its use was probably never authorized. That said, because it is wide used the agency (and another agency–Medicare) must adapt. However, the number is how all your records are kept by Social Security so you cannot NOT use it officially or on your W-2 forms. There must be hundreds of millions of numbers issued and thousands of people with the same name. You cannot get away from using the full number for official purposes either. However, having read up on ID theft in Forbes and Money magazines, too many people put their numbers at risk by carrying it with them routinely (number one on both their “don’t do” lists. One of the ways to have less government and reduce its costs is to stop creating opportunities to have your own identity taken as all taxpayers have to pay for this. Until Medicare numbers change, that will be hard to do with that card in particular though.

  12. The first step in protecting senior citizens from fraud will be to remove social security numbers from Medicare cards. I was shocked when I applied and my Medicare card was mailed to be with my SS #. Seniors can be forgetful, and it is easy for cards to be lost. So let us fight to have the SS# removed from Medicare Cards. Thank you.

  13. I tried to get help via Chat option. I received a call back from a “technical support” person and when I explained that I was having trouble submitting my application she rudely threw me to music on hold where I’ve been sitting over 20 minutes. My application keeps telling me my earnings page is not complete and I have retyped 6 times and still get a ! warning sign.

    • We are sorry to hear you are having trouble applying online, and regret to hear that we did not provide the level of customer service you expected Mary Ann. If you are still having difficulties completing your application, call 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Representatives can assist you with your application online. If needed, they can also help you schedule an appointment with your local Social Security office. Generally, it is best if you call later in the day or later in the week. Thanks!

  14. One of the best deterrents to having the SSN misused would be to stop using it as an identifier on Medicare cards!! It took years to get the IRS to take it off the address labels when it sent 1040s to homes. It was unbelievable how long it took to get the IRS to understand privacy rights while it, also, pretended to “educate” folks about keeping their SSN secure. The SSA has done little to get the change made to Medicare IDs so having the SSA do these PR blogs, etc. does little to help resolve the situation.

  15. Another joke from SSA. First it was get a cellphone with TEXTING to securely log into your SS account. Now they say protect your SS# from ID theft. Well one good way would be to take it off your Medicare Card where every doctors office you visit you have to give this #. Doctors office have non vetted personnel which change often. There goes your SS#.

  16. SS is responsible for the largest HACK of all…they DO NOT KEEP YOUR STUFF SECURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I’m very surprised when received by mail my Medicare Card with my SS# in them, because I never carry this with me. I grabbed the number in my mind. Please take action and introduce any change to Medicare to no longer put our SS# at risk

  18. Our Social Security Number (SSN) should be treated as a PUBLIC RECORD, as we treat our Names, Addresses, zip codes, Date of Birth, etc. SSN have been requested by ALL banks I have account, all landlords, all credit cards, all utility companies, all HR departments. Even when you don’t qualify for the account/job/etc, they have your information. You have NO idea how they protect information they store.

    Let’s face reality: hundreds, if not thousands of people have access to your SSN.

    As that said, let’s STOP treating SSN as a secret information because it is NOT.

    What is WORSE than an Organization trying to AUTHENTICATE you using a public information that thousands of people have? Once again, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER is NOT a private record. Sorry about the reality shock.

  19. Why doesn’t the AARP fight for this removal of SS# from
    Medicare Cards they should carry some weight to represent us, instead of advertising free calculators, free
    junk import items to apply to auto insurance etc.

  20. I recommend….. TO NO AVAIL, years ago …. that PIN numbers be added to Social Security Numbers. Allow the PIN numbers to be controlled and changed by each owner. Same concept in use many years by commercial finance operations. Mandate pin numbers whenever establishing a financial account.

  21. A question. The Social Security # was only meant to be used for Social Security alone. In fact, because of concern about government intrusion in peoples’ lives if it became a national identification # used for many purposes, it was promised that it was only intended for this one purpose when the law establishing Social Security was before Congress.. That statement at the bottom of your card saying it isn’t to be used for ID purposes also referred to the #.
    So my question is, why hasn’t Social Security ever done anything to do prevent it’s wide spread use . The idea that one can keep it secret is absurd as now you can’t get a driver’s license or go to a doctor or dentist unless you are willing to give your #.

    • Hi Steve. The use of the Social Security number (SSN) has expanded significantly since its inception in 1936. Created merely to keep track of the earnings history of U.S. workers for Social Security entitlement and benefit computation purposes, it has come to be used as a nearly universal identifier. Anyone can refuse to disclose his or her number, but the requester can refuse its services if you do not give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone’s number and use it for any purpose that does not violate a federal or state law. Sometimes they will issue a different number if you ask.

  22. Where can I get help and assistance for my father Social Security benefits his worked from 1950 to 1962 on Guam during the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) under the United States Navy controlled the TTPI from a headquarters in Guam until 1951, when the United Ststes Department of the Interior took over control, administering the territory from a base in Saipan.

    After his work in Guam and Saipan he moved to Kwajalein to continued working from 1963- to 1977 under the United States Army with the Global.

    Later he work in Kosrae, Federated Ststes of Micronesia with some private business company and Kosrae, FSM government sector until he retired from his job.

    I am looking forward to hearing from your expertise in this very urgent matter.

    Thank you so much.

    • Unfortunately and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Your father should contact his local Social Security office or call us toll free at 1-800 772-1213. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. If outside of the continental United States, he should contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate for any assistance related to Social Security benefits.

  23. It’s a reality, when we received the medical services through the Medicare Identification, all employment of the medical offices know our Social Security Numbers, and each opportunity they requested for this identification card.

    We need the new Medicare Card that will not display our Social Security Numbers, in order to protect our identity in the medical services forever.


    • We understand your concern. Under current law, Medicare providers need to know your Social Security number in order to provide you the benefits to which you are entitled. Generally, they only have to see and verify your Medicare card at the time they provide initial medical services. The good news is that a new Medicare card is coming. The Medicare program, including Medicare cards, is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

  24. This is junk. The government forces me to carry my social security number because I have to carry my medicare card. I will try to get my senators and representative to shut down this money wasting site.

  25. My local SSA office was in such a rush to charge me for a $33,000.00 ovoveroayme until they completely overlooked the depth of my injuries and still to this day, insinuates that I’m working, saying,” Due to changes in my income”, I will receive $122.00 per month . Even all the hospitals I was in, and, their own veterinarian said differently. Somebody needs to remind them that I didn’t scam my way into the US, nor am I trying to destroy the US . I’m a Baptist, ex- Marine, non-crininal,was a hard working American citizen, that always followed the law whether local, county,state,or federal . Now, for trying to do just that, I’m being treated far worse than they treat their known enemies . They have an agenda for sure.

  26. Better carry those documents if you plan not to be accused of a rediculously made up overpayment, or be from Syria .

  27. I am receiving SSD due to 8 surgeries in the past 2years. I went back to school as an adult, a single mother with a 2year old daughter, with no child support, etc. I went through all the clinical rotations, working for free, etc. After working in the Operating Room for 8 years, I had my first surgery, which turned into a domino effect with major, unrelated surgeries. Somehpw, throughout all of the paperwork, my social security card was asked for and then I never got it back. I filled put application for a replacement ss card. I sent a signed copy of my NCDL, a copy of my birth certificate, signed. My application and documents were mailed back to me, stating i didnt provide necessary documents. I cannot drive. I need my social security card. Please help?!?!

    • Hi Keely, if you’re born in the United States and already have a Social Security number, and you are not changing your name, you will only have to provide us with documentation for proof of identity. We prefer a state issued ID card with a picture. However, we will consider another official document such as a health insurance card, school ID card or U.S. military ID. All supporting documents must be originals. For complete instructions, and to see if you qualify to apply for a replacement Social Security card online click here. Thanks!

  28. Make Your Emergency Plan Today because September is National Preparedness Month:
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  29. Under the law signed by President Obama, that allows the Social Security Administration to issue the new cards, will be implemented by CMS (Center for Medicare- Medicaid Services). They have 4-8 years to issue the new cards.

  30. Identity theft is not the only crime that is hard to catch, like discrimination, it continues on for years. Identity thieves understand they are hurting people and damaging their lives, the SOCIALIST SECURITY SYSTEM does that same thing to adult disabled children who choose to marry an able bodied person. The adult disabled children who marry an able bodied person is victimized by special “Rules” the SOCIALIST SECURITY system used to justify their modern day discriminatory acts.

    If you are a physically disabled person (an adult disabled child) and you happen to marry an “able bodied person” you will be loosing out on a lifetime of benefits, all because of a one word “rule” that prohibits you from marrying an “able bodied person”. Best of all, they never tell you about their “Rule” so that they can justify cutting off any benefits that you may be due.

    Because you are physically disabled (adult disabled child) and you choose not to marry another adult disabled child or disabled person drawing off socialist security, you WILL LOOSE ANY AND ALL BENEFITS FOR LIFE. This means that the SOCIALIST SECURITY system is TELLING YOU WHO YOU ARE ALLOWED TO MARRY and who you are
    NOT ALLOWED TO MARRY! It is a discriminatory act “rule” and should be ILLEGAL!

    Even though I am permanently and totally disabled, if I marry an “able bodied person”, somehow that marriage makes everything ok and I am no longer considered disabled (in the eyes of the socialist security system). Magically (because I married an able bodied person), the pixie fairies come down and cure my disability, because now I can just go out and find gainful employment, no one will discriminate against my physical disability and everything will be grand, right? Somehow magically, marrying an able bodied person makes my physical disablility dissappear and now I am cured, right? WRONG!

    The issue is a special “Rule” that the Socialist Security System uses to discriminate against “certain” people. If you are a “physically disabled person” (AKA-certain people) and happen to marry an able bodied person, then the SOCIALIST SECURITY system will use special “Rules” to legally discriminate against you and deny you benefits, even if you appeal online.

    The SOCIALIST SECURITY system has caused me a lot of economic hardship all because I married an able bodied person. The SOCIALIST SECURITY system thinks someone who is physically disabled (permanently and totally disabled) marries an “able bodied person”, that somehow magically they are cured of their physical disability and two people can survive off the able bodied persons income. WOW, talk about a bunch of bureaucratic idiotic thinking, that somehow this would not cause a financial hardship….. amazing.

    The rules that the Social Security Administration uses to legally discriminate against persons who are “Adult Disabled Children” who happen to marry an able bodied person, are discriminatory. This is loosely referred to as the “marriage penalty” but I call it exactly what it is, a legal form of discrimination.
    I firmly believe this rule, is an act of bias, prejudice and discrimination against people who (by no fault of their own) are born disabled and happen to marry an able bodied person

    Please write your Congressional Representative and tell them to end this modern day form of Legal Discrimination. In this day of fairness and equality, there are still some people suffering from an outdated and oppressive bureaucratic rule.

    (PS. notice how the only thing any of these SOCIALIST SECURITY workers ever say are quotes of the rules or processes, like a worker drone. They are unable to address any topics that fall outside of their rule books). Typical bureaucracy and bureaucratic responses, like trying to argue over lost change with a vending machine!

  31. D. 7 Şubat 1982, D. Matache şarkıcı ve şarkı tüm hoparlörler ve mallurilor hipermarket Romanya şarkıdan \ “ne ve ben yemedim ve rasarit\\\ mutlu olmak var” ve bu kurtulmak üzerinde tv herkesin önünde kendimi kendi salonumda girdiğinizde, d. 28 Temmuz 1924 benim dedesi olimpia “mutlu yıllar” diyor.

    Russia Olympian Team, Russia Federation registration number 5213 5045 5516 7728 / 28.07.2016.

    SPASIBA, 24 szeptember 2016.

  32. Interesting comments . Just to add my thoughts , if someone is interested a CMS-L564 , my company filled out a sample form here

  33. Is it illegal for websites to show a persons FULL Social Security number? does. I was looking for a relative on there and his FULL Social Security number was listed. It is a division of Opens up another can of worms. By the way, he is deceased.

  34. A hostile distant relative has disclosed the last six digits of my SSN, as well as my children’s on his blog with the statement:
    ” For the complete SSN contact me. You’ll need to say that the SSN will be used for research purposes.”
    He has also disclosed date of birth, and mother’s maiden name. He is providing the ingredients for identity theft/fraud. It is very concerning and feels like harassment. Is this legal? Do I have any recourse? What steps do you recommend I take? I have already locked my credit down.

    • Hi Teresa. Generally, reports and investigations of identity theft are handled by the Federal Trade Commission. You can find more information in their website: Or you can call them at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

  35. You are required to place your ss# on your checks when you pay your medicare premiums. Any bank teller or someone stealing from your mailbox when you get your notices now have all the information they need.

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