Local
6:03 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Scammers Glom Onto ACA

Illinois officials say full implementation of the Affordable Care Act is attracting potential scams.

The ACA has been in the headlines a lot in recent months, given recent the launch of health insurance marketplaces.

Tom Joyce, of the Better Business Bureau of northern Illinois, says the situation is ripe for scam artists.

“Scammers always take advantage of situations where there’s confusion in the marketplace and a lot of questions,” Joyce said.

Joyce says navigators, the people hired to help people sign up for cheaper health insurance, will never call people unsolicited asking them to pay a fee.

“A lot of scammers can pose as navigators and are asking for money. Real representatives will never ask for money,” Joyce said.

These imposters, who sometimes use phone numbers nearly identical to official organizations, will also ask for personal information, including your social security number. Joyce says if you receive such a call, simply hang up.

The Federal Trade Commission recently reported it received 11-hundred complaints regarding this activity.

Tips

On its website, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office offers this list of ways to avoid such scams:

Tips to Avoid Scams

  • Do not pay for help. The government will not charge for its services. You never have to pay to receive help. If you receive an offer to sign up on the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace for a fee, you should hang up, delete or walk away. Do not give cash, your credit card or banking information to someone you do not know or did not contact.
  • Make sure any specialist you work with is certified. If you are working with a specialist, make sure the specialist is certified. To confirm you are working with a certified specialist, consumers can visit the Illinois Department of Insurance website: http://insurance.illinois.gov. Starting October 1, names of certified specialists will be added to the searchable database on a rolling basis, so please check back periodically.
  • Never open your door to a stranger, even if they claim to be a certified specialist. Instead, consult the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace to learn about the options you have and what you qualify for.
  • Guard your personal information. Do not give out your Social Security number, bank account number, or other sensitive personal or financial information to someone who calls you, emails you or comes to your door. However, be aware that when you enroll for an insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you will be asked to provide your Social Security number and payment information, among other personal information. Before you do this, make sure you are on the official website and if you sign up in person, ask the specialist who is helping you to look away while you enter this information online.
  • The Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace does not offer Medicare. Medicare is not affected by the Affordable Care Act, and you cannot enroll in Medicare through the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace. You should not share your Medicare number with anyone who contacts you uninvited. If you have Medicare questions, please call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-877-9392).
  • Use the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace for one-stop safe insurance shopping. Consumers who enroll for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace can be sure they are accessing approved insurance plans and at the same time determine, based on their income, whether they are eligible for Medicaid coverage under the newly expanded program, or for tax credits to help offset their premium payments.