Consumers shopping for health insurance should be cautious about how and where they share personal information, the Better Business Bureau warns. Scammers may pose as an authority from the federal government and request your personal information for a variety of reasons and in several different ways: by phone, email, or even in person at your door. They may tell you that you are an initial recipient of an Affordable Care Act insurance card (there is no such thing), for example, or insist that you pay a fine for not having insurance, or want to advise you about keeping your existing health insurance or Medicare. Scammers may then ask for your personal information, including your full name, social security number, email addresses, date of birth, and mailing address.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Never give out any of your personal information over the phone.
- The government does not typically call, text or e-mail citizens. Communication is usually by regular mail.
- Do not trust your caller ID as scammers may be able to disguise the phone number from which they are calling, tricking you into thinking that the call is from a reputable organization. If you think a scammer is calling you, hang up the phone and do not call them back.
- If you have a Medicare policy, scammers may try to lure you into applying for additional insurance or for a new Medicare card. The Affordable Care Act is not affiliated with Medicare and will not have any effect on the current status of your Medicare card.
- Websites that are not affiliated with state-based marketplaces, but have similar names, will try to obtain your email address, username, and password information. Before logging on to any health insurance website or online portal, make sure to check out the official homepage of your state's marketplace.
There is more at stake than just your health insurance; identity theft could affect your finances and other aspects of your life as well. If you think you have been scammed, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or file a complaint online. You should also notify the national credit bureaus by calling their fraud hotlines (Equifax, 1-888-766-0008; Experian, 1-888-397-3742; and TransUnion, 1-800-680-7289) and change the passwords on your online accounts if you are concerned that a scammer has accessed them. If you gave out any financial information, notify your bank as well as your credit card company as well.
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