written by Barbara Parrott McGinity, LMSW
Would you give out your banking information or social security card to someone who calls you on the phone and states they are a federal employee? With the roll out of the new health insurance exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Better Business Bureau wants to warn you about the potential for a number of scams designed to steal your money and your identity.
The con artists are always looking for new opportunities to trick you. They will take the confusion over health care reform law, usually referred to as ‘Obamacare,’ and turn it into ready cash by any means possible.
The Texas Senior Medicare Patrol has been dealing with these scams targeting seniors for years, “Since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2009, we hear the same story year after year, that seniors are called and told they need a new Medicare card. Seniors need to know not to give out any personal information to anyone calling on the telephone. Medicare will not call you and they do not need your banking information to provide you Medicare coverage.
Understanding the scams can help you not be a victim. Here are some of the most common scams and what you can do to avoid them.
1) A caller claims to be a federal employee and states you have been chosen to be among the first to receive a new federal health insurance card under the Affordable Care Act. To receive this card they just need a little of bit of information, including, of course, your social security number and your bank account numbers. There is no national insurance card. And they will use the individual mandate portion of the law, requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, as a means of scaring you into providing personal information.
2) Seniors are one of the major targets of telemarketing scams. The Affordable Care Act has made few changes to federal health care for seniors, but the scam artists use the term “Obamacare” to trick them.
Enrollment for the health insurance exchange is starting in the same time frame as Medicare Open Enrollment in October, and seniors will continue to be targeted by people tricking the them into revealing their Medicare numbers. Seniors need to understand that the insurance exchange does not impact their Medicare in any way and they need to hang up on people who try and tell them differently.
3) Fake online websites have already been popping up. The best way to fine your state exchange is to go to http://www.healthcare.gov. Do not do a “search.” You will get alot of fake websites. Be safe and make sure you are on the correct website. Do not enter personal information in pop up windows and be suspicious of unsolicited inquiries.
There is one surefire way to spot a bogus insurance sales scam is when they use the name ‘Obamacare.’ If somebody is trying to sell you ‘Obamacare’ insurance, you know right away you need to hang up the phone or shut the door.”
The best way to protect yourself is to always verify before you provide any information. Never respond to an unsolicited inquiry until you verify the identity of the inquiring party. You can look for information at http://www.bbb.org or check with the Texas Department of Insurance at http://www.tdi.texas.gov. And Seniors should contact the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol at 888-341-6187 if they have questions or concerns about calls they are receiving.