As the Obamacare's health insurance exchanges become open, it seems that scam artists are also anxious to con folks out of their money. With so much confusion going on during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including the government shutdown, people may be easy targets unless they are careful.
Richard Eisenberg at Forbes says one of the biggest scams is the "nonexistent Obamacare card."
There is no card. People don't need a card. People don't need a new Medicare card.
"As you might expect," Eisenberg writes, "con artists pitching the cards say they need to get your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account, before they can send one."
Watch out for phony phone calls from scammers claiming to be government employees. The North Hills Patch gives advice from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane on this: "Be wary of illusory government and company names claiming to help with enrollment, especially if they list a toll-free number other than that of the official help center. Enrollment is simply an option available to consumers, who will not be contacted by state or federal government in person or by phone, email or text."
Nobody is going to call you. Legitimate representatives won't call people out of the blue.
Kimberly Lankford at Kiplinger warns about misleading insurance sales. Some people on Medicare have received calls from "insurance agents," Lankford writes, "telling them that they're going to lose their Medicare benefits or access to their doctors because of Obamacare and that they should sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan instead. They either steal the person's premiums entirely or get a commission from the sale."
Lankford also says to be on the lookout for fake websites. "Crooks are also sending e-mails and setting up Web sites that look like they're from an official state exchange," she writes, "often with very similar names and an official-looking seal. Don't click on the site or the e-mail; instead, find a link to the state exchange at Healthcare.gov."
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Michael Kling at the financial blog Wise Bread says scammers are calling people and offering to help people access the health insurance exchanges in exchange for a fee. "Beware," Kling writes. "They're out to collect bogus fees. They also collect bank account numbers or other sensitive financial information. Official helpers, called navigators, assisters, or counselors, can help you with the health insurance marketplace. But they don't charge fees or push particular plans. To find people who can help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan, visit the government's local help site."
To find legitimate help, people can simply go to Healthcare.gov or call toll free at (800) 318-2596.
If people are solicited by a suspected scammer, they can call the Federal Trade Commission's complaint line at 877-FTC-HELP.