Money Fix: Watch out for health act scammers
Scammers are seizing the opportunity to take advantage of confusion about the Affordable Care Act.
Here are some of the ploys:
Keep your guard up: Fraudsters offer to help people sign up for the health insurance exchange or offer insurance plans. In some cases, these "plans" are worthless medical discount cards.
"There's no doubt con artists will be using lots of different pitches to exploit the health care law. Their creativity is boundless, so consumers need to be careful," said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Federation of America.
If you have insurance, there's no need to sign up, get a new card or make any changes. There is no application fee or charge for help enrolling in an insurance plan through the health care marketplaces.
"Hucksters and thugs set up bogus websites to steal private and personal data," says Summer McGee, associate professor and health policy expert at the University of New Haven.
"If someone claiming to be with . . . a federal program asks you to wire money, give your bank account number or load funds onto a prepaid card, it's a scam," warns Emily Peters of Practice Fusion, a San Francisco health technology company.
Know the facts: A good place to start is HealthCare.gov, or info.nystateofhealth.ny.gov.
Says Peters, "If you inadvertently divulge information to a crook, inform your banks, credit card providers and the major credit bureaus so they can look out for potential identity thieves."