How Con Artists Use Health Insurance Scams to Pick Your Pocket

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You know how important it is to hold on to your wallet in a crowd, but did you know that it’s just as important to hold on to your wallet when you’re in the market for health insurance? Here are just a few of the ways con artists use health insurance scams to worm their way into your personal information, and tips on how to protect yourself from the bad guys.

There’s no shortage of health insurance scams con artists have used to rip off unsuspecting victims. A few of the more popular ones include:

  • Fake health insurance policies. This is on the rise, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. Con artists promise low prices, no medical exams and guaranteed acceptance. Any too-good-to-be-true promises are a tip-off that you may be dealing with crooks. Before you pull out that handy dandy check book, contact the Federal Trade Commission or your state insurance department to find out if it’s a real company or just another health insurance scam.
  • Phony state health exchanges. In states that chose not to set up health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (leaving it to the federal government), con artists set up fake state exchange websites. Their goal: reel in the unsuspecting. You hand your personal information, financial data and money over to someone and in return you get absolutely no health insurance. You get the short end of the straw on this deal. Check to see if your state has set up a state-run health exchange.
  • Discount cards called insurance plans. These are cheap! Of course, you get what you pay for. Chances are the “insurance plan” will have phony lists of doctors, high fees hidden in fine print and no benefits. Be sure to thoroughly read the documentation that comes with it and don’t be afraid to ask questions before signing up.
  • High-pressure sales. Con artists know that the faster they can force you to make a decision, the more likely they are to walk away with your private information or sell you something you don’t need or want. So go on high alert when scammers say things like, “Today is the last day to act.” Or, “If you don’t sign up now, your big discount is lost.”
  • Government workers who aren’t. These con artists pretend to “help” people with ACA insurance. But the real goal of these health insurance scams is for the scammers to help themselves to your Medicare, bank, Social Security or any other personal information they can use to make illegal medical claims. Ask to see their government ID before providing any personal information.
  • Charges for ACA insurance advice. The government urges people with little or no experience with health insurance to seek out “navigators” who have been trained to help. Con artists posing as navigators ask customers to pay for their advice. Trained, official ACA navigators do not charge for their services.
  • Web sites designed to look like those of trusted insurance firms. These fake sites look and act like those of legitimate insurance companies. Make sure you are dealing with the real website before entering any personal information or plugging in your debit card number. If you’re unsure, call the business and ask what their official web address is before proceeding.

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