BBB Tip of the Week: Health care scams
Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are in effect and scammers are pouncing on the confusion related to these healthcare changes.
Here are several scams that have cropped up:
• The Obamacare card. Scammers insist you need one to buy ACA health coverage and request your Social Security number and bank account to send it. No such card exists.
• The Medicare scare. Scammers threaten seniors and others on Medicare that they will lose coverage when the Obamacare exchanges replace Medicare unless they provide a Social Security number and other information. The truth is that it is illegal for any insurer to sell an ACA exchange policy to those on Medicare.
• The government telemarketer. Con artists claiming to be government employees are calling to verify eligibility for Obamacare and asking for Social Security number and other personal details. The truth is that local and federal government employees don’t cold call citizens. Usually contact is made through the mail.
• The fake Obamacare navigator. The Affordable Care Act created advisers, known as navigators, to help the public, through local agencies, sign up for health coverage. Scammers posing as navigators are stealing identities and selling phony insurance, charging unsuspecting consumers hundreds of dollars.
• The phony Obamacare website. Sites have popped up, resembling state insurance exchanges. As these are discovered, they are being shut down.
With so many taking advantage of the confusion surrounding ACA and perpetrating fraud, knowing who to trust and what to do to can be stressful. To complicate matters even more, scammers can be very believable in their ploy to steal your identity for a profit.
The BBB offers the following tips to avoid these scams:
• If you receive a call, ignore it. Hang up, and don’t call them back. Also don’t trust caller ID because scammers can spoof a legitimate number. Remember government employees will not be calling you out of the blue.
• Never give your personal information out to unsolicited callers or in response to unsolicited emails. Safeguard your Social Security, Medicare ID, credit card and bank account numbers, date of birth and other personal information.
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and to purchase coverage through the state exchanges, visit www.healthcare.gov or call the federal toll-free hotline, (800) 318-2596. These can direct you to legitimate state exchanges.
For more tips you can trust, visit the BBB at www.bbb.org or call (509) 455-4200.
Erin T. Dodge, BBB Editor