The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called ObamaCare, has changed the way that many Americans access health insurance. Unfortunately, there are those that take advantage of changes and new legislation to defraud Americans who may not fully understand the changes that are taking place.
Current ObamaCare Scams
Many ObamaCare schemes exist. These cons come in the form of emails, phone calls, and fake websites that are made to look like government sites. Some sites rely on misinformation about what the ACA actually covers and offers quotes on services not actually linked to ObamaCare. Other scammers will call and tell you that you need to have your new “ObamaCare card” issued right away (there’s no such thing) or that you have to get a new Medicare card (you don’t). They might tell you that you may face jail time if you don’t release your information. This is entirely false: there is no provision that involves jail time in the ACA.
Always keep in mind that you should never release personal information, such as your social security number or bank account number in response to an email or on a phone call.
Because there are so many different perpetrators of scams, it can be difficult for law enforcement to crack down on the criminals. The best option is for Americans to educate themselves about the Affordable Care Act, as well as online and financial safety to avoid becoming victims.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
There are some simple steps you can take to help you can avoid being scammed by anyone, whether it is related to ObamaCare or another event.
- Go directly to websites, rather than clicking links from emails. Website links may look legitimate if you read them, but they actually redirect you to an alternate scam site that will steal your information. Know the key sites, such as Healthcare.gov, and go to them directly rather than clicking on links within emails.
- Avoid responding to email or unsolicited calls. Official organizations rarely do business through email or over the phone unprompted and they never ask for personal information through these formats. Go directly to the government site, call an official 800 number, or visit the office in person.
- Never pay for assistance from a “navigator.” ACA navigators are individuals who are trained to assist you with your insurance questions and application. However, they do this free of charge, and are funded through the Affordable Care Act. You should never have to pay for assistance with the Marketplace.
- Report fraud or suspicious activity. If you become aware of a scam or someone tries to defraud you, report the information to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
- Report identity theft immediately. If you have given out your social security number or bank account information, notify your bank and credit card providers right away. If you feel that your identity has been stolen, visit the FTC Identity Theft Page or call 1-877-ID-THEFT for information on how to report it and what to do next.
It’s unfortunate that there are people who take advantage of unsuspecting people and their confusion over major changes in the law, but it’s important to understand that it does happen. By taking the steps above to protect yourself, you will be better able to avoid being defrauded or having your identity stolen.