WISCONSIN -- Scammers are trying to profit from the Affordable Care Act. "Most of the information we're hearing is by phone call and if it was really from the federal government and you were being asked to sign up or enroll you'd be getting something in the mail," said Better Business Bureau President and CEO, Ran Hoth.
According to the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission has recieved more than a hundred complaints nationwide.
"We're concerned because of telephone contact that asks you to share under high pressure information that's very valuable to you," Hoth said.
Although no one has filed complaints with the local BBB, Waukesha Certified Financial Planner, Tony Drake said one of his clients recievend a scamming phone call. Drake primarialy advices retirees.
"No one should be asking you for [your] social security number, bank account information over the phone. Soon as someone mentions that hang up," said Drake.
Drake also warns to beware of fake websites. "Do not go to Google or one of the search engines and type in Obamacare website, lot of fake websites out there," he said. Both Drake and Hoth reccommend going straight to healthcare.gov.
The Wisconsin BBB is asking you contact them if you think you've been scammed and fill out the scam stopper form.
Tony Drake, with Drake and Associates, shares the following information:
Q: How are these scammers capitalizing on Obamacare?
Even with enrollment starting yesterday, many Americans are still confused about the Affordable Care Act and what it means for them - scammers see this as a perfect time to take advantage. According to the National Consumers League, consumers have complained about scam artists contacting them by phone, fax, email and even in person. The scammers are using words like “it is the law” or “the government now requires it” to get people to give out their bank account numbers, social security numbers or make a direct cash transfer. Some have even threatened jail time.
Q: What types of scams are out there?
There are five types of scams that I am warning my clients about.
Scam #1: Fake Insurance Cards
On a typical call, an authoritative sounding person says the Affordable Care Act now requires a new ID card otherwise doctors can’t provide treatment - or if you don’t get a new card, you’ll be faced with a penalty. The caller says the government will send out the ID right away - but first you need to disclose personal information like your social security number or bank account information. Here’s what you need to know - you do not need a special insurance card. This is a scam!
Scam #2: New Medicare Cards
These scammers tell you that because of Obamacare, you need a new Medicare card to keep from losing coverage. The Affordable Care Act does not require any new Medicare cards. And a reminder to those seniors on Medicare, this Oct. 1st date that everyone is talking about is not for you. You don’t have to do anything right now so if someone contacts you for your Medicare number, hang up! (The new state insurance exchange is set up for people who buy their own individual health care insurance or who are currently uninsured.)
Scam #3: Fee for Advice
This is another cold call from someone who offers to help you enroll in the insurance exchange for a fee. There are official helpers called “navigators” trained and certified to help you understand your options and help you enroll in a plan- they aren’t allowed to charge you anything.
Scam #4: Fake Health Insurance Plans
Fraudulent health insurance plans are being offered by these criminals for as little as $29.95 per month. The Better Business Bureau reported that a company tricked a senior citizen into giving her bank account number by claiming that she was qualified to sign up for Obamacare, and that there were only 20 spots left!
Scam #5: Fake Medical Discount Plans
This is a scam that the Federal Trade Commission says prowls on those who are fearful of getting hit with a penalty for not having health insurance. Some con artists may offer to sell you a discount plan that they claim meets the law’s minimum coverage requirements. This is what you need to know - medical discount plans are not health insurance. Instead, they are usually a membership into a club that claims to offer cheaper prices from certain doctors or pharmacies. The FTC warns that some of these plans are scams that don’t follow through on promised services.
Q: How can we protect ourselves from becoming a victim?
First - Get informed. Consumers looking for information about the Affordable Care Act and the exchange in their state should start at the government’s website, healthcare.gov.
Second - Don’t talk money over the phone or email. If someone claiming to be with Obamacare asks you to wire money, give out your bank account number or load funds onto a prepaid card - don’t - it’s a scam.
Third - Be careful of fake websites made to look like the official insurance exchange websites.
Fourth - Ask for Credentials. The navigators, those who work for the new state insurance exchanges may reach out to you, but they are supposed to provide some kind of credentials to prove their legitimacy. You can cross-check navigator’s credentials with the exchange in their state.
Fifth - Report it. If you’ve gone a step further and given a fraudster personal information, call your bank, credit card company, or one of the three credit bureaus right away. They can help close accounts, or suggest ways to protect your credit file.