AUSTIN, Texas — Scammers are using the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly labeled as "Obamacare," as the latest opportunity to steal people’s identities. And as we get closer to Oct. 1, when health care enrollment begins, Better Business Bureau and security experts warn that the problem will only get worse.
According to Fraud.org, Obamacare scams come in a variety of forms. Consumers across the country allege that scammers are contacting them by phone, fax, email and even in person. Some scammers claim to be government employees, tricking consumers into revealing their bank account numbers in order to sign up for fake health care plans. Others are asking for Social Security numbers in order for consumers to continue their eligibility for Medicare.
Certain fraudsters are intimidating consumers into disclosing information by claiming “it’s the law” or that “the government now requires it.” Some consumers are threatened with jail time if they do not purchase fake insurance cards. The only financial penalties associated with families and individuals that don’t obtain insurance doesn’t take effect until 2014 and contains no jail penalty.
Furthermore, the ACA created a Health Insurance Marketplace, also referred to as the Health Insurance Exchange. Here you can find health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs. Policies in the exchange don’t open for business until Oct. 1. Until then, no one can sell you insurance through an exchange.
BBB offers the following tips to help you spot a health insurance fraud:
Hang up the phone. If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Also, be sure not to press any buttons that the scammer instructs and report the incident to BBB’s Scam Stopper or the Federal Trade Commission.
Never give out personal information. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or Social Security number.
Don’t rely on caller ID. Some scammers are able to display a company’s name or phone number on the caller ID screen. Don’t trust that the information you see is true.
Get informed. Find out how the health care reform affects you. Visit the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s HealthCare.gov.
Get help. In the event that you give your personal information to an Obamacare fraudster, inform your banks, credit card providers and the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax so that they can be on the lookout for potential identity thieves.