Is your phone ringing with a health insurance offer you just have to consider? You're not alone. Upstate New York residents are contacting Better Business Bureau questioning the calls. BBB is urging consumers to watch out for solicitations involving the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
"We know scammers follow the headlines with their ploys, and we certainly don't want consumers or small businesses in our area to fall prey," said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau president. "There will be confusion about Affordable Care Act options, but no one should divulge personal information, or pay for any service without checking the facts first.
Government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and consumer advocacy groups are also reporting an uptick in complaints about health care overhaul-related scams.
In one telemarketing scam reported, callers claim to be a Medicare employee, and demand money in order to continue eligibility. In other cases, consumers may be directed toward websites or telemarketing call centers to sign up for health insurance at a discount.
Provisions of the law will come into effect Oct. 1. Consumers can purchase health insurance through New York State-run exchanges. Program information can be found at http://healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov.
Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to help you spot health care fraud, or if you have an elderly friend or relative who may be susceptible to these kinds of tactics:
Hang up the phone - If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Also, be sure not to press any buttons that the scammer instructs.
Never give out personal information - Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or social security number.
Don't rely on caller ID - Some scammers are able to display a company's name or phone number on the caller ID screen. Don't trust that the information you see is true.
Stay in control - You are the only one who should be making the calls or asking for information. When it's the other way around - receiving the call, getting an email or snail mail offer - it's imperative that you stay in control of the situation and keep your personal information personal until you've made your own wise and research-based decision.
More information on the ACA is available from the Health and Human Services website. Consumers can shop for qualified health plan at HealthCare.gov, which is run by the FTC's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 180 million times for business reviews on more than 4.5 million companies, and charity reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the U.S. and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.
Visit bbb.org for more information.