Are you one of those people that always gets things done as soon as possible? Maybe you are already checking out how to sign up for Obamacare so that you have that project checked off of your list. Well, be careful because the scam artists are already out there, just salivating at the prospect of you volunteering your personal information, It seems that while the government is struggling, even after three years, to get the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) up and running, the scamming industry is well ahead of the game. Those health care exchanges that have brought about so much controversy are beginning to come on line in some states. And while not ready for customers until October, some sites claiming to be exchanges are up, running and ready to go. And it’s not just online. They have apparently been calling and emailing people urging them to sign up. And while identity theft is a major goal of the scammers, some are even trying to get you to buy a fictional “insurance card”:
They often say they need to “verify” some personal information (typically a bank account or Social Security number) to ensure you get the proper benefits. In some cases, fraudsters tell victims they need to buy an insurance card to be eligible for coverage under the new program.
No matter what side of the Obamacare debates you may fall on, it is generally agreed that the public seems confused about the law. This, of course, is precisely the kind of atmosphere that the con artists love. A call from the “government” or from “Medicare” may seem plausible to some people. And the fraudsters are not shy about using the full power of the “government” to get what they want:
“We’ve heard about cases where the scam artists have threatened people with jail if they don’t purchase the fake insurance cards,” Breyault said.
While the linked article does not say how many people have fallen for these exchange scams, it has to have a larger success rate than most. While no exchanges will be ready to open until October and nobody from government will be calling citizens for personal information, it’s a safe bet that not everyone is aware of that fact. Additionally, there are plenty of fake websites claiming to be exchanges all ready for your personal information to get you signed up for Obamacare. Whether you like the law or not, it pays to be aware of how the feds are going to roll out the program. And as is often the case with these kind of things, the scammers are targeting older people who may be more amenable to telling the caller from “Medicare” his or her Social Security number or bank account number. It may be a good idea to make sure that any seniors in your family are aware that no one from any government agency will be calling them and asking for personal information.