September 19-Columbus, OH-With medical insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act going into effect October 1st, scammers may find so-called Obamacare to be an attractive way to prey on vulnerable people.
"Scammers are constantly using new opportunities to steal money and identities from unsuspecting consumers," said Joan Coughlin, Vice President, Marketing & PR of BBB serving Central Ohio. "As always, we advise consumers to protect their personal information."
Here’s how the scam works: You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The scammer says you have been selected to receive insurance cards under the new health care law. But before the card can be mailed, your bank account and Social Security numbers are required. Once the scammers get this information, they can sell it or use it to access your accounts.
One Central Ohio consumer experienced a call of this nature. He said the person calling had "a very heavy accent, and the room he was calling from was very loud and he could hear other callers." The consumer said the man told him he could expect a new Medicare card in the future and he would need to confirm the name of the bank where his social security check is deposited. Then he asked him to get his bank statement to confirm other numbers. That is when our consumer hung up. The phone number appeared on his caller ID as private.
"Always be cautious when anyone calls you asking for personal information of any kind," Coughlin said. "The government rarely calls individuals, and scammers can manipulate caller ID to say a variety of things. If you receive one of these calls, hang up."
The BBB offers the following tips to people who experience healthcare scams:
- Hang up the phone. If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Also, be sure not to press any buttons the scammer instructs.
- Never give out personal information. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or Social Security number.
- Don’t rely on caller ID. Some scammers are able to display a company’s name or phone number on the caller ID screen. Don’t trust that the information you see is true.
- The government rarely communicates via phone calls. Most of the time, the government uses traditional postal mail to communicate with consumers. The government rarely calls, emails or texts, so you should view such contacts as suspect if they claim to represent the government.
Ohio consumers looking for information on the Affordable Care Act, may go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website at this link: