To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Anybody who is on Social Security, especially if they have Medicare, is at risk to have their identity stolen. It is printed on the card "Not to be used for identification" but every dentist, doctor and physical therapist asks for it. Not one of them ask for a picture ID. Whoever started using the Social Security and Medicare card for identification was wrong and opened a can of worms instead.

A physical therapist in Pittsfield went even one step further by asking for a client's mother's maiden name for her records. What business was it of hers what my mother's maiden name was, as it wasn't being used to pay for my therapy? In fact I was on workmen's compensation and wasn't even using my own health insurance to pay for her services. I did not give the therapist anything but the name of the company that I worked for and the insurance number. The rest was none of her business.

The time has come for Medicare to issue new numbers not associated with the Social Security card like the registry did on all licenses. Help break the cycle of fraud that allows crooks to help themselves to benefits not their own. A picture ID would be better but I know the cost would keep that from happening. Restrictions should be set as to what information the doctor actually needs for billing, name of insurance and ID number etc. and no more.

There are too many cases of office fraud by workers who try to offset their salary by selling the information. This would maybe not end it but it would not be as lucrative to the crooks. All government agencies like Medicaid and Transitional Assistance use their own ID cards and number and hopefully don't use the Social Security number. Let's make it harder for the crooks to steal benefits from the ones that actually need it and save the government some money.

GORDON WISE

Lanesborough