With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) about to expand insurance coverage to millions and enrollment in the Health Insurance Exchange under way, scammers are already capitalizing on public confusion about how the act will impact average citizens.
Scams have been reported across the country, and the AARP predicts that scams against the elderly, in particular, will increase dramatically.
“The Ohio Department of Insurance has been made aware of attempts to scam Ohioans,” said Mary Taylor, Ohio Lt. Governor and Insurance Director. “No one from an official government program should be calling you requesting personal information. If you are contacted by a suspicious caller, do not provide personal information (such as) Medicare, Social Security and bank account numbers.”
Robert Denhard, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Insurance, said one current con involves a scammer claiming to be a Medicare representative who needs to verify personal information in order to issue a new Medicare card.
“New Medicare cards are not being issued because of the federal health care law,” he confirmed, adding that scammers also have contacted Ohio residents for their Medicare numbers in order to issue a new emergency medical alert device, such as Lifeline. “Medicare does not cover medical alert devices. Medicare or government program representatives do not make house calls or solicit by telephone.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that scammers may have a portion of your personal information (such as a routing number) and will attempt to gather more by asking you to verify that information before asking for your Social Security number, Medicare ID or other information.
“If someone who claims to be from the government calls and asks you for personal information, hang up,” said Tracey Thomas, an attorney with the FTC. “It’s a scam. The government and legitimate organizations you do business with already have the information they need and will not ask you for it. Then file a complaint at FTC.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP to report the incident.”
In Ohio, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General by calling 1-800-282-0515. According to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s website (ohioattorneygeneral.gov), scammers usually make their first contact via telephone, letter, door-to-door solicitation, flyers or email.
“When it happens, we urge people to follow the same guidelines as with any scam: make sure you verify any information you are given,” said Darlene Wight, chairwoman of Clark County’s Triad group, which unites senior organizations with law enforcement agency officials in an effort to reduce the criminal victimization of senior citizens.
With scammers active in the state, the FTC reminds citizens to keep the following in mind: “if you are one of the people who will use the (insurance) exchanges, you’re going to be contacting them.” Not the other way around.