Would you give out your banking information or social security card number 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 (AHA), BBB is warning consumers about the potential for scam artists posing as federal employees, all in an attempt to steal your identity.
"Con artists are always looking for new opportunities to deceive," said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. "By confusing consumers about health care reform law, they will attempt to steal your identity to turn it into cash."
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" says Barbara McGinity, Program Director for the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol. "We warn seniors not to give out any personal information to anyone calling on the telephone. Medicare will not call you and they will not ask you for banking information in order to provide you with Medicare coverage. "
BBB provides samples of the most common scams along with some Do’s and Don’ts. Knowing what to look for can help keep you from becoming a victim:
- 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 AHA. 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. In this case, however, there is no national insurance card. Scam artists will also use the individual mandate portion of the law, requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance as a means of intimidatingconsumers into providing personal information.
- Seniors are one of the major targets of telemarketing scams. Although AHA has madefew changes to federal health care for seniors, scam artists use scare tactics to confuse and trick them into providing information.
"With enrollment for the health insurance exchange starting during the same time frame as Medicare Open Enrollment in October, seniors will continue to be targeted by people tricking them into revealing their Medicare numbers," states McGinity. 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."
- Find your state exchange by going to www.healthcare.gov.
- Verify unsolicited inquiries until you validate the identity of the inquiring party.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited inquiries.
- Perform a "search” online, as many bogus websites will appear.
- Provide personal information in pop-up windows
- Respond to salespeople referring to the program as ‘Obamacare’.
For more information, go to www.bbb.org or check with the Texas Department of Insurance at www.tdi.texas.gov. Seniors can contact the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol at 888-341-6187 if they have questions or concerns.