Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about an increase in fraudulent activity related to the launch of the Affordable Care Act. The open enrollment period begins on Oct. 1, 2013, and scammers understand that many Americans are confused about their rights and responsibilities with the new program.
BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington prescribes the following:
- Don’t pay for free advice; trained and certified helpers are not allowed to charge for their services.
- Hold onto current insurance cards; coverage will continue and there is no need for special new insurance or Medicare cards.
- Learn the difference between medical discount plans and health insurance plans; discount plans alone will not satisfy the law’s minimum coverage requirements.
- Hang up on “government officials” who call, text or email to “verify” personal information; government agencies will never make these types of requests.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 21% of Alaskans are uninsured, 15% of Washington State residents are uninsured, and 16% of Oregonian residents are uninsured; these people may face fines for not acquiring coverage.
BBB reminds insurance shoppers:
Don’t trust caller IDs. Scammers possess the technology to spoof caller IDs, displaying any phone number or organization name they please.
Don’t press any buttons and don’t call back. Some reports indicate that initial calls are automated and request that recipients dial numbers to enter account information or reach representatives; don’t do it.
Don’t give out personal information. Never give personal information to unsolicited callers; avoid sharing Social Security Numbers, birthdates or medical information.
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act or the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit healthcare.gov. To stay current on other local scams, make an appointment with BBB’s News Center at akorww.bbb.org/bbb-news.