Here’s how to prevent being a victim of scammers when changing your health insurance plan.
Watch for These 5 Signs of Health Insurance Open Enrollment Scams
Now's time to renew or supplement your health insurance or sign up for a new policy that serves you better.
Unfortunately, open enrollment season also brings out fraudsters eager to prey on concerns about getting the best health insurance available at an affordable cost, warns the Federal Communications Commission.
Health insurance is confusing enough without adding in scammers seeking access to your sensitive personal information or trying to sell you fake health insurance plans. You don’t have to be a health insurance scammer's next victim, though.
Click or swipe for 5 signs of possible health insurance open enrollment scams.
1. Unsolicited calls or email
Medicare or ACA plan representatives won’t contact you with unsolicited messages by email, phone or in person unless you’re already enrolled, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Scammers can even use “spoofing” technology to make a legitimate health insurance provider’s phone number appear on you caller I.D. If you answer the call and become suspicious that the caller isn’t legit, hang up. Always contact legitimate insurance providers directly at the customer service number listed on their website or on your billing statement, says the FCC.
2. Medicare imposters
If you receive a call or recorded message from someone claiming to be a Medicare “health care benefits advocate” or a similar title, beware. The caller may promise a better Medicare supplement or Medicare Plus plan that allows you to keep all your current benefits but at a lower cost.
All you seemingly need to do to get that “better” plan is provide your Medicare I.D. number. The call is a scam, however, and giving that personal information opens you to the possibility of identity theft. To enroll or re-enroll in Medicare, visit Medicare.gov. To enroll in an ACA health insurance plan, go to Healthcare.gov.
3. Demands for quick action or immediate payment
When you sign up for health insurance, you typically have to pay for the first month in advance, so that’s not usually a sign of a scam. However, if the broker or caller is threatening that your Medicare or ACA plan will be canceled unless you make immediate payment or take action now, hang up and call your insurance provider directly instead.
4. Free “health screenings”
Most providers offering affordable health screenings are legitimate, but some health insurance scammers use free health screenings to bait you into handing over sensitive personal information so they can steal it for nefarious purposes, says the BBB.
When you arrive for your free screening appointment, scammers may slip a blood pressure sleeve on you and check cholesterol levels to appear legitimate, but what they really want is your health insurance I.D. or your Medicare or Social Security number.
Once they have that information, scammers can bill your insurance company for thousands of dollars’ worth of tests, access your personal genetic information or steal your identity, says the BBB.
5. Offers of promotional gifts
Any time an insurance broker offers you an expensive free gift, free health screening or similar special deals, those offers should raise a red flag, warns the BBB. That’s because the next step towards receiving that free gift is often providing your health insurance or Medicare I.D. number or other personal information.
Always decline promotional gifts offered in exchange for personal information.
This article by Deb Hipp was originally published on Debt.com.
Published by Debt.com, LLC