Scambook Warns About 5 Affordable Care Act, Obamacare Health Scams

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With the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, officially in effect as of this October, there has been a significant increase in scammers taking advantage of those confused by the new changes in American healthcare policy. The FTC has found healthcare fraud to be on the rise and is expecting it to increase in the following months, leading to both fraud and identity theft for consumers.

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It's estimated that 60% of Americans still don't understand how the Affordable Care Act affects them. Scammers are exploiting widespread confusion to defraud consumers in the name of Obamacare.

With the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, officially in effect as of this October, there has been a significant increase in scammers taking advantage of those confused by the new changes in American healthcare policy. The FTC has found healthcare fraud to be on the rise and is expecting it to increase in the following months, leading to both fraud and identity theft for consumers.

“It's estimated that 60% of Americans still don't understand how the Affordable Care Act affects them. Scammers are exploiting widespread confusion to defraud consumers in the name of Obamacare,” explains Scambook’s Director of Marketing Kase Chong.

Scambook, the Internet’s leading online complaint resolution platform, is offering tips to spot these scams and avoid them when making the switch to new insurance under the Affordable Care Act:

1.    The Fake “Obamacare Card” Scam: Victims receive a phone call from a scammer who claims to represent the government, informing them that they need an “Obamacare Card” to be eligible for the Affordable Care Act. Other scammers may offer it as an insurance discount card or even as a discount plan for prescription medications. Potential victims are asked to pay upfront via Western Union or prepaid cards, or the scammer may tell them the card is free if they provide their social security number or other personal info. Consumers need to be aware that there is no such thing as an Obamacare Card or Affordable Care Card.

2.    The Information Update Scam: In this scam, fraudsters posing as Medicare officials call consumers to update or verify personal information, with consequences if they don’t comply. However, nothing in the Affordable Care Act threatens existing benefits for Medicare enrollees. Do not respond to cold-callers and contact your Medicare representatives directly. Senior citizens are common targets, as they are more likely to give away their social security number and personal information, putting them at higher risk of identity theft and other fraud.

3.    Fake Navigators Scam: To assist consumers with their transition into healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act, the government is sponsoring the training and certification of “healthcare navigators” to help them purchase insurance. Unfortunately, scammers are cashing in by impersonating these navigators and stealing the consumer's money or personal information. To steer clear of this scam, don't give any personal information to a “navigator” who cold-calls, and verify a potential navigator by thoroughly researching their organization before you deal with them. Refer to healthcare.gov for more information on navigators.

4.    Fake Coverage and Mandatory Payments Scams: This scam has taken on a variety of sub-versions including: the selling of fake healthcare coverage, manipulating consumers into to paying “upfront fees” for the Affordable Care Act healthcare benefits to take effect, and even the threat of jail if the fake enrollment fees are not paid. Victims should never wire money via Western Union or send a prepaid card to unsolicited callers under any circumstances.

5.    Fake Health Exchange Website: The public should also watch out for fake health exchange websites, designed to mimic real sites but instead stealing user's personal information or infecting their computer with malware. Don't click links from unsolicited spam emails or download any unsolicited email attachments.

For consumers who need more information about signing up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, they should visit http://www.healthcare.gov. By learning more about the Affordable Care Act, consumers will be able to better distinguish scams from legitimate healthcare organizations and offers.

Consumers have until March 31, 2014 to enroll in new insurance under the Affordable Care Act, so Scambook encourages consumers to take their time and do thorough research if they observe any “red flags” concerning a healthcare offer. By resisting pressure to “act now or miss out,” consumers will be able to avoid a number of scams.

Consumers can also call the federal toll-free hotline for information about the insurance exchanges at 800-318-2596.

Scambook TV also offers additional information about Obama Health Scams.

About Scambook

Scambook is an online complaint resolution platform dedicated to obtaining justice for victims of fraud with unprecedented speed and accuracy. By building communities and providing resources on the latest scams, Scambook arms consumers with the up-to-date information they need to stay on top of emerging schemes. Since its inception, Scambook has resolved over $18 million in reported consumer damages. For more information, visit scambook.com.

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Lisa Inouye
PMBC Group
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