Obamacare Scammers Are Open for Business

Friday, 13 Sep 2013 08:21 AM

By John Morgan

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Government and consumer groups are warning Americans to be on the lookout for bogus look-alike Obamacare health exchange sites that are designed for theft, fraud or to cause confusion.

The sites are created by interest groups, private insurance companies that want to capitalize on the new law's implementation or sometimes by scammers, who all offer sites that are similar in name or appearance to official state exchange sites, Kaiser Health News reported.

"These exchanges could range from deceptive but relatively benign marketing devices for legitimate insurance companies to malicious devices that are designed to steal your identity or insurance information," said James Quiggle, communications director for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

Editor’s Note:
Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

For example, state insurance officials in California are monitoring a site called Coveredcalifornia.com that only acknowledges in fine print that it is not the state-run site, Coveredca.com.

In Pennsylvania, state officials intervened when a private insurance company put up a site called the "Pennsylvania Health Exchange," and the company subsequently shut the site down.

"The potential for fake exchanges to rear up is very serious and real," Quiggle told Kaiser Health News.

The new state marketplaces, or exchanges, were mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and are due to open on Oct. 1.

Experts suggest that to avoid trouble, consumers should go first to Healthcare.gov. There, they can find out if they will be using a federally administered exchange or they can get a link to their individual state's official exchange.

With the advent of Obamacare, "crooks are trying to take advantage of misconceptions and misinformation about the upcoming changes so that they can get your credit card number, bank-account information or cash," Kiplinger warned.

Frank Dorman, a public affairs spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, said the agency has already received complaints about Obamacare scams.

"Don't take a call from someone you don't know or trust who offers to help you navigate the new healthcare market or wants to sign you up for an insurance plan that will supposedly make you ACA-compliant -- and then asks for your credit card number," Dorman told Kiplinger.

In Kansas and Alabama, some of the scams reported involved people pretending to be government workers who requested bank account numbers to set up ACA healthcare plans, MSN Money reported. In Nevada, a company received personal information pitching fake health insurance plans starting at less than $30.

Complaints about the scams are coming from a variety of communication modes, including phone, fax, email and even face-to-face, MSN said.

Editor’s Note: Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

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