How your health can become a target for scammers



“All the money in the world can’t buy you back good health” is a quote by Reba McEntire. But if that is true, then con-artists have not gotten the memo.

While your health may not seem like something that can be taken advantage of, the truth is, it can.

Take for example the Affordable Care Act.

Back in 2013, people who did not have health insurance could buy coverage through the new marketplaces . Naturally, many Americans had questions and that left some still confused. Scammers also followed this news, which lead to some consumers being asked for money, personal information, or both.

Here are the facts though:

  • Be careful if someone contacts you to sign you up. The federal government is not calling or mailing letters to sign people up, but it may send emails to some people who tried to enroll for insurance through the federal website and couldn’t because of glitches. Since it’s hard to tell if emails are from legitimate sources or scammers trying to infect your computer or direct you to a phony website, it’s always best not to click on links. Got or call 1-800-318-2596.
  • There is no application fee or charge to get help with the process. The only thing that people will have to pay under the ACA is their monthly insurance bill (and some will qualify for free coverage or lower rates). If anyone wants to charge you for providing information or helping you sign up, it’s a scam.
  • Report anything suspicious. Call the federal hotline to report scams. If you think that you may be a victim of identity theft because you provided your personal information to someone you shouldn’t have, you should also call your local police and the Federal Trade Commission’s ID theft hotline, 1-877-438-4338

Avoiding health fraud

It seems as though there is always a bigger and better product that can improve your health. Whether that product rejuvenates your skin, helps you lose weight, or just makes you “feel better”.  But not all these claims are truthful and some of these products target those who are currently in bad health.

Health fraud is a way for scammers to play on our desires for a quick fix and bombard consumers with deceptive marketing.  They offer help for common health issues, including weight loss, memory loss, sexual performance, and joint pain.

But making sure you don’t fall victim can be simple if you look at for a couple key things.

Watch out for those buzz words. Look to see if the product uses any words like miraculous cure, quick fix, ancient remedy, new discovery, scientific breakthrough, or secret ingredient to a name a few.

Are those testimonials real? Personal testimonials by “real” people or “doctors” played by actors claiming amazing results can be a tip off that it’s a scam.

Can the product cure many aliments? If a product claims to cure a wide range of unrelated diseases, it’s probably a scam. No one product can treat or cure many different illnesses.