By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
Millie Walker, of McCall, listened twice to the answering machine message to make certain she’d gotten the information correct.
“It said, ‘With the changes in the Affordable Care Act, we’re going to need to verify your Medicare account information – get a note pad and write down this file number and password,’” she says.
Without hesitation, the retiree dutifully wrote it down and called back.
“It sounded so official with a file number and password,” she recalls. “So, when I confirmed my information with him, I was at complete ease.”
Later that afternoon while visiting a friend, they realized: Medicare will not call you.
If someone who claims to be from the government calls and asks for your personal information, hang up. It’s a scam.
The fraudsters tell those who answer the phone they are among the first Americans to get a health insurance card through the Affordable Care Act. But before the card can be sent, the caller asks for personal information, like bank account and Social Security numbers.
The government and legitimate organizations already have all the information they need.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, has been at the center of media attention since it became law in 2010. And while the long-discussed Health Insurance Marketplace won’t be established until January 2014, sly scammers are taking advantage of the confusion.
Idaho’s healthcare exchange media coverage puts another crinkle in the confusion.
You can’t sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act until Oct. 1, and there is no insurance card associated with the program, according to the Better Business Bureau. If anyone tries to sign you up before then, it’s a scam, and that person or group could be after your personal information.
- If you receive a phone call from a scammer, hang up. Don’t press any buttons or call back.
- Know that your caller ID could be lying to you. Scammers can control what number or organization name displays on your caller ID screen.
- Never disclose personal information—date of birth, Social Security, credit card number, and bank account.
- Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, text messages, or emails claiming to be from the government. The government generally communicates through the mail and not by phone, text message, or email.
“The Affordable Care Act is in the news lately. And one thing we’ve learned at the Federal Trade Commission is that scams often follow the news,” the FTC stated in an alert about the scam.
“We’ve heard from consumers and from other federal agencies that scammers are trying to convince people to act now,” the alert reads. “Scammers always want to get your money before you have time to stop and think.”