Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Commerce, Oct. 16, 2013;
With new programs, like the Affordable Care Act, come new opportunities for bad actors to take advantage of Tennesseans. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance urges citizens to be on the lookout for fraud by being aware of the following common scams and red flags.
Open enrollment in Tennessee’s marketplace began Oct. 1; however, bogus websites appeared online for more than a year before the launch date.
Affordable Care Act inspired scams range from cold callers requesting personal information to enroll individuals in the marketplace to websites that charge individuals to create an online marketplace account, which is a free to use through healthcare.gov. Another common ruse involves unsolicited calls from scammers who claim to have your new “ObamaCare Insurance Card” – they just need to get some information before they can send it to you.
The caller then asks for credit card numbers, bank account information or your Social Security number. A variation of this trick specifically targets seniors on Medicare. First, the caller claims that in order to get a new Medicare card and continue receiving benefits, the Medicare recipient must verify their bank account and routing numbers. Some callers ask for the recipient’s Medicare numbers, which are identical to Social Security numbers.
Remember that federal and state agencies do not make unsolicited phone calls regarding the sale of insurance policies, nor should you ever give your personal information to someone over the phone without vetting their credentials first. Also, anyone who is a legitimate representative of the federal government will already have your personal and financial information and should not ask you to provide it.
Scammers posing as insurance agents or government representatives may try to sell fraudulent policies and/or try to obtain sensitive information like Social Security and bank account numbers from unassuming Tennesseans. To further protect consumers, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is providing tips on how to avoid being a victim of a scam.
IMPORTANT RED FLAGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
The salesperson says the premium offer is only good for a limited time.
• Enrollment in the exchange will be open from Oct. 1 until March 31, 2014, and the rates have been approved for the entire enrollment period. Be skeptical of anyone who is trying to pressure you into buying a policy because the rate is only good for a short time. Remember: If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is false.
You receive an unsolicited phone call or email from someone trying to sell insurance.
• Neither the federal government nor any state government will be contacting consumers to sell insurance. Do not give any sensitive information to anyone who claims to be with the state or federal government or claims to be a navigator for the exchange should you get such a call.
The salesperson says you could go to jail for not having health insurance.
• Starting in 2014, all Americans will be required to have health insurance but you will not go to jail if you do not purchase health insurance. Monetary penalties may be imposed for those who are not exempt from the requirement of health insurance, but jail time is not one of the penalties.
You are 65 or over and a salesperson says you must purchase a different kind of health insurance.
• Individuals 65 and over are eligible for Medicare and encouraged to apply for this federal government program three months before turning 65. If you already have Medicare, you do not have to do anything starting January 1st as your coverage will not change. Visit http://www.medicare.gov/ for more information.
A navigator or certified application counselor says that there is a fee for his/her services.
• Navigators and certified application counselors (CAC) may not charge consumers for assistance or steer the consumer toward someone who charges a fee. Always ask to see a navigator or CAC’s official certification before handing over any private or sensitive information. You can also call the Department of Commerce and Insurance Agent Licensing Unit at (615) 741-2693 or (888) 416-0868 to verify the status of a navigator or CAC.
The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for a daily dose of fire prevention tips, consumer affairs information and much more!