The insurance industry has long relied on a system of open enrollment periods to sign up new members or make changes to current members’ plans for healthcare coverage, but with recent federal changes to the way insurance companies offer this coverage, scammers have once again come out in full force to trick people out of their money and their personally identifiable information.
There is possibly no bigger fear for citizens than to think that they are not covered if they should become sick or injured, so it’s easy to see why people fall for these fraud attempts. Unlike other scams that prey on our desire for more money or get rich quick opportunities, anyone can be victimized by a criminal who threatens to revoke their health coverage.
Using the known open enrollment dates for insurance and Medicare, scammers have turned to postal mail, email, and phone calls to lure people into paying for bogus coverage and to handing over their bank account numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and more. These communications will even go so far as to threaten you with a loss of your coverage if you don’t act immediately to continue or upgrade your plan.
If you receive an email informing you about potential changes to your health insurance or Medicare coverage, read it carefully to look for some key identifying features that let you know it’s a scam.
- Hover your mouse over the sender’s address - you should be able to see immediately that it isn’t actually from a healthcare provider; remember that in the case of Medicare, it will end in .gov, not .com.
- Take notice of the style of writing or the grammar, and see if you spot errors, the kind that a professional company would never let slip through their system.
- If you’re told to click on a link in order to access or input your information, DON’T do it… it could be taking you to a site that will install malicious software on your computer.
Here’s an important tip that scammers haven’t fully picked up on yet: “Obamacare” is a nickname given to the Affordable Care Act, based on the name of the president whose administration crafted it. Any legitimate government employee who contacted you and referred to it as Obamacare instead of “ACA” would most likely find himself out of a job! If that nickname comes up in the correspondence, delete it or hang up immediately because it is not from a trustworthy source.
If a scammer contacts you by phone and asks for any identifying information, hang up immediately and call the customer service number on the back of your card. That way, you can report the incident, as well as make sure there was no legitimate contact from them. Remember, even with a genuine phone call or email from any company you do business with, there’s nothing wrong with ignoring the request and then initiating your own phone call to the company using verified contact information.
Finally, remember that no company should ever contact you through any means and ask for your private information. If anyone ever requests your personal data—especially SSN numbers or account numbers—and you were not the one to initiate the contact, do not give it out. No healthcare provider will terminate your coverage through email or phone calls, and you will never be strong-armed into turning over your data to an unsolicited representative by a legitimate company. When in doubt, make the call yourself and get to the bottom of the issue.
If you have questions about open enrollment healthcare scams, or have concerns about medical identity fraud, call one of our friendly and knowledgeable Victim Advisers toll-free at 888-400-5540.