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Scammers Trying to Make Obamacare Confusion an Opportunity for Identity Theft, Warns Better Business Bureau

Aug. 18, 2013

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly labeled “Obamacare,” on the horizon, scammers are finding it to be the latest opportunity to steal people’s identities.

“Consumers nationwide are reporting that scammers are calling, claiming they are eligible for health insurance cards, and asking for personal information,” said Ran Hoth, CEO/president of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. “The BBB advises consumers to ignore these calls. Providing this information to unknown persons is dangerous and puts you at risk for identity theft.”

The scams work like this: You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The scammer says that you have been selected to be part of a group of Americans to receive insurance cards. But before the card can be mailed, your bank account and social security numbers are required. Once they get this information, they can sell it or use it to access your accounts.

“Affordable Care Act scammers are able to make consumers think that their calls are legitimate, especially with such a hot topic like Obamacare,” Hoth explained. “Consumers need to realize that the government rarely calls individuals. If you receive this type of call, hang up.”

The BBB offers the following tips to people who experience the affordable healthcare scams:

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.
The government rarely communicates via phone calls. Most of the time, the government uses traditional snail mail to communicate to consumers. The government rarely calls, emails or texts, so don’t give your information to these types of messages.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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