Why You Should Protect Your Medicare Number


June 25, 2024

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Why You Should Protect Your Medicare Number

In the digital age, personal data, health information, and everything in between are precious assets. Your Medicare number is among hundreds of data points craved by threat actors and fraudsters because it acts as an individual identifier and gateway to your PHI (protected health information) and financial data.

Did you know?

  • The year 2023 smashed all previous data breach records in the healthcare industry, with a whopping 133 million exposed or stolen records, according to HIPPA
  • An average of 64 healthcare breaches were reported each month between March 2023 and March 2024
  • Main cause of data breaches in the healthcare industry in February 2024 was hacking

Why are Medicare numbers a hot commodity for cybercriminals?

Medicare numbers are used by healthcare providers, pharmacies and Medicare itself to verify the identity of beneficiaries and provide services. Should your Medicare number end up in the wrong hands, it can be used in fraud.

  • Access Your Medical Records: Cybercriminals can use your Medicare number to access your medical records, leading to privacy breaches and unauthorized use of your health information.
  • Commit Medical Identity Theft: Fraudsters can use your Medicare number to receive medical services and prescriptions and even file false insurance claims in your name. This impacts you financially and can lead to erroneous medical records.
  • Phishing Scams: Cybercriminals can use your Medicare number in sophisticated phishing schemes to steal even more information from you or take over your financial accounts by mimicking legitimate communications from healthcare providers or Medicare.

Real-life fraudulent use of Medicare numbers

In late January 2023, a Florida man pleaded guilty to “conspiring to buy and sell more than 2.6 million Medicare beneficiary identification numbers,” according to the DOJ. During his plea in court, the defendant admitted using “data mining” and “social engineering techniques” to collect Medicare numbers and other beneficiary information to sell online.

“According to the charges, some of the illicit transactions involved foreign actors, including sellers in the Philippines,” the DOJ said in a press release.

This incident highlights the importance of beneficiaries remaining vigilant, protecting their Medicare numbers, and monitoring for signs of misuse.

How cyber crooks and scammers get their hands on your Medicare number

  1. Phishing. Fraudsters send emails or text messages that appear to come from legitimate sources, such as Medicare, asking recipients to provide their Medicare numbers. Scammers also pose as Medicare representatives or healthcare providers and contact people over the phone to solicit personal information.
  2. Impersonation. Fraudsters impersonating Medicare representatives or agents may visit targets in person to collect info and Medicare numbers
  3. Data Breaches. Cybercriminals launch attacks on healthcare providers or insurance companies that store sensitive health information
  4. Mail Theft and Dumpster Diving. Fraudsters may steal physical mail that contains Medicare cards or documents with Medicare numbers from mailboxes or dumpsters
  5. Fake Websites. Threat actors create fake websites that look like official Medicare sites, tricking victims into entering Medicare numbers and other sensitive information
  6. Manipulation. Cybercriminals use social engineering tactics to trick beneficiaries into revealing Medicare numbers by exploiting their trust or fear.
  7. Fraudulent Posts on Social Media. Cybercriminals use social media platforms to post fake ads or messages that ask for personal information in exchange for fake medical services, free benefits or equipment.

Need some help against scams and scammers? Try Bitdefender Scamio, our scam-busting AI-powered chatbot to thwart potential Medicare scams coming your way.

When unsure about an email, text message or proposal, you can check it with Scamio on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or a web browser for free! Copy/paste a text or link, describe the situation, and upload the image or the QR code you want to verify. Scamio will analyze the data and tell you if anyone is trying to scam you.  You can also help others stay safe by sharing Scamio with them in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Australia, and the UK.

How to protect your Medicare number and prevent identity theft crimes

  1. Never share your Medicare number with people who contact you by phone, email, or text. No legitimate Medicare representative will ever contact you out of the blue and ask for such information.
  2. Never lend your Medicare number to others or accept payment from people wanting to use your benefits
  3. Shred records that hold any personal information or healthcare information before throwing them away
  4. Keep all of your medical records in a safe place
  5. Regularly review your Medicare Summary Notice for suspicious entries
  6. If you suspect your Medicare number has been compromised, report it immediately to Medicare and your healthcare provider.
  7. Use a security solution with comprehensive anti-phishing and anti-fraud filtering systems to block fraud and scam attempts
  8. Stay on top of data breaches that involve your protected health information by opting for a dedicated identity protection service

How can Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection bolster your cyber resilience against data breaches that involve your health information and Medicare number?

- Continuous Monitoring. Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection continuously monitors the dark web and other sources for signs that your personal information has been compromised. If any of your data is found, you are immediately alerted so you can take action to secure your accounts.

- Real-Time Alerts. You receive real-time alerts about threats to your personal information. Whether it’s a data breach involving your email address, credit card number, or other sensitive information, Bitdefender promptly informs you.

- Detailed Reports. Bitdefender provides detailed reports on the status of your personal information, helping you understand what data might be at risk and what actions to take.

- Actionable Advice. In case of a breach or leak, Bitdefender offers actionable advice to mitigate the damage and protect your information. This might include changing passwords, contacting your bank, or other necessary measures.

If you’re in the US and worried about threat actors using your SSN and Medicare number, check out Bitdefender Identity Theft Protection – for the US only.

Please find out more about our identity protection plans here.




Alina is a history buff passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She spends most of her time between her two feline friends and traveling.

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