Scammers are using the October rollout of the state insurance marketplaces as an opportunity to con personal information from people. Here's how to keep up your guard.
This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.
Regardless of how you feel about the health insurance debate, some industry insiders have argued that one facet of it is indisputable: The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a great opportunity … to scam people.
Fraud.org, a project of the National Consumers League, issued a warning about fraudsters looking to capitalize on the confusion surrounding Obamacare.
Here’s what happens: Con artists call consumers, peddling fake insurance plans. The scammers say they need to verify personal information; otherwise the person on the other end of the call won’t get their insurance benefits. Or they’ll face fines. Or legal action.
“We’re seeing a significant number of scams because of Obamacare,” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy for the NCL. The Federal Trade Commission has received more than 1,100 complaints of this nature since May, he said.
Breyault said they expect scam reports to spike in October, when the health insurance exchanges or marketplaces open. Such spikes occurred when the Affordable Care Act was under debate in Congress and when the Supreme Court upheld the law.
How to spot a scam
“What consumers need to know is that they’re not going to get calls from the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services, HHS, Obamacare, asking them to divulge sensitive personal information, like a Social Security number, like bank account numbers, like date of birth,” Breyault said.
Scammers may pose as navigators — organizations and people trained to help consumers understand the marketplaces — and ask for this sensitive information. If you think you’re a victim of Obamacare fraud, Breyault said you should file a complaint with Fraud.org or the FTC.
Those looking to buy insurance on the exchanges can register with Healthcare.gov and explore the pages of information posted there. Though Breyault said the NLC is concerned about scammers targeting senior citizens, he said no single demographic seems to be the lone target for thieves. “This is a scam that could affect anyone.”
If you’re worried that you have fallen victim to this or a similar scam, monitor your credit by checking each of your credit reports once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can use Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card for a concise overview of the information in your credit reports, along with your free credit scores.
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