On Oct. 1, millions of people will begin sorting through their health insurance options as open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act begins.
Trying to wade through all of the choices -- figuring out premiums, copays and deductibles -- might have you throwing up your hands in defeat. That's exactly what scam artists are hoping you'll do. They'll be quick to swoop in, promise you help and take your cash.
Estelle Taylor nearly became a victim. She recently got an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be a government employee.
"He had an Indian accent," said Taylor. "He asked me if I was on Medicare and that they were going to send me a new Medicare card. And I thought, 'okay.' "
But the caller wanted Taylor's bank account number, but she didn't fall for it.
"I knew something was fishy," said Taylor.
The Federal Trade Commission says getting a phone call should be a big red flag.
"If they tell you they are from the government and they are calling, whoops -- it's a scam," said Cindy Liebes of the FTC. "The government won't call you."
That's just one tactic scammers seem to be testing out, as the Affordable Care Act gets underway.
The FTC also warns that some may contact you claiming to be health care navigators and offering to help guide you through the health insurance marketplace -- for a fee. The real navigators are not allowed to charge consumers.
Another scam claims you could face prison time if you don't sign up for health care coverage immediately. It IS true that under the Affordable Care Act, most people must have health insurance. But the penalty is not jail -- it's a fine of one percent of your income or $95, whichever is higher.
Estelle didn't fall for another common scam.
"Consumers are getting calls from scam artists telling them they need to get a new Medicare card under the Affordable Care Act and they have to pay money to get this new health insurance card," said Liebes. "Oftentimes, they'll be asked to provide their social security number and when they provide their social security number, of course, they can be victims of identity theft."
If you think a scam artist is on the other end of your phone line, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
Click hereto learn more about potential health care scams.
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