Last week’s forward-reaching FraudBlog opened visitors’ eyes to the myriad challenges that exchanges will have in protecting consumers and businesses from scammers once enrollment under health reform begins in October.
Actually, identity-theft scams already are alive and well right now. A wave of identity-theft scams are trying to exploit confusion over health reform to rob people’s bank accounts and credit cards.
People are receiving cold calls or knocks on their door from strangers. The thieves typically peddle a load of baloney much like this:
“Hi, I’m from the federal government. You’re among the first lucky people to receive your Obamacare health reform card early. Federal law requires you to sign up. All we need are your bank routing and account numbers, and your Social Security and credit card numbers.”
Swindlers have told some consumers they’ll go to jail unless they sign up now. One brazen cheater even tried to sell insurance against “death panels.”
Pretty cynical ploys. And some thieves target seniors, who tend to be home more often, and frequently have tidy nest eggs to loot.
Consumers in states around the U.S. are receiving these illicit pitches. The cons are pretty transparent, but trusting people have given out their financials. This left the con artists free steal from their bank accounts and abuse their credit cards — all in the name of nonexistent “Obamacare” health insurance.
Folks, take heed: The feds aren’t sending agents door to door or cold calling at present. Nor is there a federal law called “Obamacare.”
Nobody will legally contact you for signup until the October open enrollment. Health reform takes effect in January.
Take convenient and firm steps to thwart cheaters: Just hang up the phone or close the door. Don’t engage these strangers. Many are trained pitchmen who will try to sweet talk you into letting down your guard. Also contact the Federal Trade Commission, the federal agency that investigates swindles like these.
Navigating the brave new world of health reform will be challenging enough. Let’s make it one step easier by stiff-arming these identity thieves out of business.
About the author: Jim Quiggle is director of communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.