Don’t get ‘Obamascared’ into paying scam artists

scam-alert-pic-150x150Scammers are taking advantage of the early buzz over Obamacare to sow confusion and rip off unwary consumers. Enrollment in Obamacare health insurance reform program (officially known as the Affordable Care Act) begins on Oct. 1.

BBB would like you to get the real scoop and avoid getting tricked!

Fraud.org talks about several different types of Obamacare scams. Consumers around the country report being contacted by phone, fax, email and even in person. Scammers might claim to be government employees, tricking consumers into revealing their bank account numbers in order to sign up for fake health care plans. Or they might ask for Social Security numbers, claiming they will ensure consumers remain eligible for Medicare.

Some fraudsters are intimidating consumers into giving up sensitive information by claiming “it’s the law” or “the government now requires it.” Consumers have even been threatened with jail time if they do not buy fake insurance cards. The only financial penalties associated with families and individuals who don’t get insurance doesn’t take effect until 2014 and there is no jail penalty.

Also, the ACA created a Health Insurance Marketplace, aka the Health Insurance Exchange, where 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.

For more tips you can trust, to check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.