2018 Data Breach Pace Slows as FTC Warns on New Medicare Cards

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The latest count from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that there have been 159 data breaches recorded this year through February 28 and that nearly 3.4 million records have been exposed since the beginning of the year. The incident total is about 36% below last year’s total of 248 in the same period.

In 2017 the ITRC reported a total of 1,579, a new annual record and 45% higher than the previous record of 1,091 set in 2016. The ITRC has been reporting data breach totals since 2005.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned this morning of the potential for new scams surrounding the issuance of new Medicare cards. Beginning in April and continuing through April 2019, Americans who get Medicare benefits will be receiving in the mail a new Medicare card that does not contain the owner’s Social Security number. The new cards will include a new, unique Medicare Number in its place.

The FTC warns of potential scams:

Your new card is free. If someone contacts you and says you need to pay for it, that’s a scam.

You don’t need to reveal any personal information to get or activate the card. If someone asks for personal information by phone, mail or online, that’s a scam.

Once you get the new card the FTC recommends that you shred or otherwise destroy the old Medicare card. Don’t just toss it out. If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep that because you’ll need it for treatment.

The business sector leads them all in the number of records compromised so far in 2018, with nearly 2.5 million exposed records in 64 incidents. That represents 40.3% of the incidents and 72.8% of the exposed records so far this year.

The medical/health care sector has posted 28.9% (46) of all 2018 data breaches. The number of records exposed in these breaches totals more than 185,000, or about 5.5% of the year-to-date total.

The number of banking/credit/financial sector breaches totals 19, about 11.9% of the total incidents reported so far this year. More than 115,000 records (about 3.4% of the annual total) have been reported to be compromised in the incidents.

The government/military sector has suffered 16 data breaches to date in 2018, representing about 8.5% of the total number of records exposed and 10.1% of the incidents. Nearly 290,000 records have been compromised in the sector.

The educational sector has experienced 14 data breaches since the beginning of the year. The sector accounts for 8.8% of all breaches for the year and more than 330,000 exposed records, about 9.8% of the year’s total.

Since beginning to track data breaches in 2005, ITRC had counted 8,668 breaches through February 21, 2018, involving almost 1.07 billion records.