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Watch out for Obamacare scammers, BBB warns

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Kentucky Press News Service

Arlington, VA – Consumers across the U.S. are reporting phone calls that claim to be from the government about new health insurance cards required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that this is a scam, and it’s growing now that the Oct. 1 implementation date for the Health Insurance Marketplace is here.

“Con artists are taking advantage of people’s confusion about what exactly the Affordable Care Act means for them,”  Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said in a news release on the BBB website. “Scammers’ favorite tools are confusion and fear.”

“This is the latest twist on the ‘Medicare scam’ that BBB has seen for years,” she said. “Whenever there is a new government program or new public policy, fraudsters will take advantage of people. But the simple fact is there is no Affordable Care card. It’s a scam.”

BBB has issued several Scam Alerts warning consumers about scams related to “Obamacare,” but is stepping up efforts now that the implementation has begun.

Here’s how the scam works. You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The caller informs you that you’ve been selected as part of the initial group of Americans to receive insurance cards through the new Affordable Care Act. However, before the caller can mail your card, they need to verify personal information, such as your bank account and Social Security numbers.

BBB urges consumers to ignore these pitches and use the following precautions when dealing with this type of scam:

Be cautious with your identity. Never give personal information to someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether by phone, email, social media or in person.

Hang up, don’t press any buttons and don’t call back. Returning the phone call may just give the con artist information he can use.

The government uses regular mail. Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be cautious of calls, text messages or emails.

Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.

Keep your personal information to yourself. Never give out personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, date of birth or Social Security numbers to unfamiliar callers.

For more information on the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, go to healthcare.gov. 

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org. To Report a Scam or sign up for BBB Scam Alerts, go to bbb.org/scam