MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Enrollment with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) just started and the Federal Trade Commission says scammers are already taking advantage of the public.
The National Consumers League says scam artists are contacting consumers by phone, fax, email and even in person. The scammers are using words like “it is the law” or “the government now requires it” to get people to give out their bank account numbers, social security numbers or make a direct cash transfer. Some have even threatened jail time.
Annalee Leonard with Mainstay Financial says there are 5 scams you should lookout for so you’re not the next victim.
Scam #1: Fake Insurance Cards
You do not need a special insurance card but scammers will make you believe you do.
The caller will tell you the Affordable Care Act now requires a new ID card otherwise doctors can’t provide treatment - or if you don’t get a new card, you’ll be faced with a penalty.
The scammer will claim they need personal information like your social security number or bank account information. Don’t give it out.
Scam #2: New Medicare Cards
Scammers are also telling the public new Medicare cards are needed to keep coverage but new cards are not required by the The Affordable Care Act.
For seniors on Medicare, the Oct. 1st date that everyone is talking about is not for you. You don’t have to do anything right now so if someone contacts you for your Medicare number, hang up! (The new state insurance exchange is set up for people who buy their own individual health care insurance or who are currently uninsured.)
Scam #3: Fee for Advice
If someone offers to help you enroll in the insurance exchange for a fee don’t buy the advice. There are official helpers called “navigators” trained and certified to help you understand your options and help you enroll in a plan and they aren’t allowed to charge you anything.
Scam #4: Fake Health Insurance Plans
Fraudulent health insurance plans are being offered by these criminals for as little as $29.95 per month but they’re not real plans.
Scam #5: Fake Medical Discount Plans
This is a scam that the Federal Trade Commission says prowls on those who are fearful of getting hit with a penalty for not having health insurance. Some con artists may offer to sell you a discount plan that they claim meets the law’s minimum coverage requirements.
This is what you need to know: medical discount plans are not health insurance. Instead, they are usually a membership into a club that claims to offer cheaper prices from certain doctors or pharmacies.
Protect yourself from becoming a victim
The National Consumers League has some good tips.
- Get informed. For information about the Affordable Care Act and the exchange start at the government’s website, healthcare.gov.
- Don’t talk money over the phone or email.
- Be careful of fake websites made to look like the official insurance exchange websites.
Ex: Fake CA website
Ex: Real CA website
Ex: Fake E-mail
- Ask for Credentials. The navigators, those who work for the new state insurance exchanges may reach out to you, but they are supposed to provide some kind of credentials to prove their legitimacy. You can cross-check navigator’s credentials with the exchange in their state.
- Report it. If you’ve given a con artist your personal information, call your bank, credit card company, or one of the three credit bureaus right away. They can help close accounts, or suggest ways to protect your credit file.
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