We at the Better Business Bureau know that scams follow tragedies, but to have scams popping up so soon after the new health care bill is a testimony to the fact that scam artists are up with the times and they’re planning to scam the public any way they can.
The Deseret News ran an article that says scammers are going door-to-door saying there is open enrollment now, and that toll-free phone numbers have been set up to scam consumers.
No calls have come into the Utah BBB yet, but it is only a matter of time.
When I asked the other BBBs around the country, several brought up the fact that there have been health care companies that have been questionable for a long time – for instance Healthmarkets, Inc. a company out of Fort Worth, Texas. This company’s report is a laundry list of lawsuits that different government agencies have filed against them over the last few years.
Smart Data Solutions and United Benefits of America are two other health care companies, operating out of Tennessee, that have similar records of actions being taken against them by government agencies.
Finally, the BBB in Colton, California, reminds the public that many consumers have mistakenly bought what they thought was health insurance, only to find that what they wound up with was just a plan that occasionally gives a discount on medical services. One such company is Association for Lifestyle Reform.
But, back to those scams that are a result of the health care bill. A BBB in North Carolina reported receiving a call from a consumer who had been solicited to provide information necessary for a new Medicare card that was supposed to contain a verification chip. The consumer refused to provide the personal information (yea!).
In Idaho the BBB warns that “consumers are being approached by individuals posing as insurance agents representing the federal government and trying to sell insurance policies. Many are high pressuring people into signing up by saying such things as, ‘You must act now or this offer will go away.’”
In Alabama a caller informed the BBB that she was told by a company out of Arizona that they were part of the government health care reform program and she had to act fast as there were only 20 spots left; they only wanted her bank account number.
I think we all have seen ads for health care coverage that seem a little too good to be true. The scam artists are dreaming up ways to catch people. I think they’ll use those annoying little signs (that are illegal in many cities) posted on poles and fences along the roadways offering health care plans, as well as what’s already being tried – door-to-door and telemarketing sales. And I’m sure email will come into play at some point too.
So, beware of offers that sound too good to be true. Check out questionable offers at www.bbb.org, and never be forced into a quick answer! Reputable companies allow you the time to check out a company first.