Better Business Bureau warns that, as Obamacare approaches, so do the scams
Scammers are using implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly labeled Obamacare, as an opportunity to steal people's identities. And as we get closer to Oct. 1, when health care enrollment begins, experts warn the problem will only get worse, according to a Better Business Bureau news release.
Affordable Care Act scams come in a variety of forms, according to Fraud.org. Consumers nationwide allege that scammers contact them by phone, fax, email and even in person.
Some scammers claim to be government employees, tricking consumers into revealing their bank account numbers to sign up for fake health care plans. Others ask for Social Security numbers in order for consumers to continue their Medicare eligibility.
Certain fraudsters intimidate consumers into disclosing information by claiming "it's the law" or "the government now requires it," while some consumers are threatened with jail time if they do not purchase fake insurance cards.
The only financial penalties associated with families and individuals who don't obtain insurance don't take effect until 2014 and contain no jail penalty.
Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act created a Health Insurance Marketplace, or Health Insurance Exchange. There, consumers can find coverage that fits their budgets and meets their needs.
Policies in the exchange don't open for business until Oct. 1 so, until then, no one can sell insurance through an exchange.
BBB offers the following tips to help 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 only gives the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Do not press any buttons the scammer instructs you to and report the incident to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Stopper or the Federal Trade Commission.
Never give out personal information. That includes bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card and Social Security numbers.
Don't rely on caller ID. Some scammers 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. Learn how health care reform affects you. Visit the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' HealthCare.gov.
Get help. If you do give personal information to a fraudster, inform your banks, credit card providers and the three major credit bureaus - TransUnion, Experian and Equifax - so they can be on the lookout for potential identity thieves.