Be aware of healthcare scams

May 10th, 2017 | By | Category: Commentary

By Emily Valla, BBB Northwest

Dealing with healthcare can be such a headache. Scammers know that, and they hope to get away with your personal information before you realize what’s going on.

Often the fraudster will pose as a government authority to persuade you to provide personal information related to your Medicare or Medicaid account. If you do it, you are opening yourself up to identity theft. In other cases, the con artist is after your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare information to submit fraudulent medical charges.

Healthcare scams are as varied as just about any con out there. The scam could begin via email, text message, or in most cases, phone calls. Recipients of possible scam calls report to Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker that calls are repetitive and pushy in asking for personal information. Red flag!

The scammers work to make it appear that they are from a government agency or are an official of some kind. They duplicate logos on emails to look official; they spoof phone numbers that show up on caller ID’s.

If you answer the phone or respond to the message, what happens next varies. BBB says in many cases, the “agent” claims he or she needs to update account information in order to send a new medical card.

In another version, the scammer asks for your account number in exchange for free equipment or services. A third version involves a threatening robocall purporting to be from health insurance officials. You’re told you must buy health insurance or face an immediate fine. Sure enough, you’re soon asked to provide personal information.

Be wary any time you get a cold call demanding information. Don’t trust a name or number: con artists use official-sounding names, provide fake ID numbers, and mask their area codes to try to get you to trust them. Don’t fall for it.

Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, or on social media. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, Social Security number, and, of course, your health insurance number.

Still unsure? The Idaho Department of Insurance warned about a possible healthcare scam happening locally last year. In the alert, the Department of Insurance reminded individuals:
Open enrollment for health insurance ran from Nov. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31,2017 – no special “state enrollment period” for individual health insurance exists.
The federal government will not call you to sell you health insurance. Be wary of telemarketers who often use official-sounding names.
Never provide bank account or health information or agree to any request to send money over the phone. If you are being pressured to provide this information, hang up.
Purchase insurance only from a licensed agent. Ask agents for their license number and verify licensure by calling the Department or visiting the website, www.doi.idaho.gov. If a person refuses to provide licensing information, hang up.
If you receive a sales call from someone selling health insurance, ask the caller to send you information in writing about the policy, including premiums. If they refuse, hang up.

For more information on ongoing scams, visit this link.

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