For Immediate Release: October 17, 2013

Protect Yourself from Fraud Related to Health Care Reform

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin warns North Carolinians to beware of scam artists who may try to take advantage of the confusion surrounding federal health care reform.

"Scammers may pose as insurance agents or representatives of the federal government in an attempt to sell fraudulent policies or collect your personal information," Goodwin said. "The best way to protect yourself is to be informed and recognize red flags."

Health Insurance Marketplace

New Health Insurance Marketplaces, or exchanges, opened on Oct. 1. These online portals ask consumers to enter information about themselves and select the level of coverage they desire to receive a list of plans they can purchase. North Carolina's Health Insurance Marketplace is run by the federal government and can be accessed at www.healthcare.gov. Beware of bogus websites that give the appearance of being part of the new Marketplace. You should also be suspicious of anyone who charges a fee to inform you about the Marketplace or in connection with enrollment.

New "Obamacare" Insurance or Medicare Cards

Another common ploy involves unsolicited calls from scammers who claim to have your new "Obamacare" insurance card—they just need to get some information before they can send it to you. The caller then asks for credit card numbers, bank account information or your Social Security number. A variation of this trick specifically targets seniors on Medicare; the caller claims that for them to get their new Medicare card and continue receiving their benefits, they must verify their bank account and routing numbers. Some callers ask for their Medicare numbers, which are identical to Social Security numbers.

Medicare beneficiaries are not required to obtain a new insurance or Medicare card under the Affordable Care Act. Also, anyone who is a legitimate representative of the federal government will already have your personal and financial information and should not ask you to provide it.

Don't Be Misled

Don't Be Misled Here are some other important red flags to watch out for:

If you have questions about health insurance, call NCDOI's Health Insurance Smart NC program at 877-885-0231.

If you have questions about Medicare, call SHIIP, the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program, at 800-443-9354.

To find local assistance with enrollment through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace/exchange, call 800-318-2596 or visit www.healthcare.gov.

--NCDOI--