By Mariel Leibowitz
Thieves are using this chaos to their advantage, and a trend of new scams have started, including the "imaginary" Obamacare card. The Better Business Bureau released a statement informing the public that they in fact, do not need an insurance card under the Affordable Care Act to buy coverage.
Scammers have been pitching this fake insurance card to people in order to obtain personal information, social security numbers, bank account numbers and more.
Insurance card scams are very common -- fraudsters contact people, trying to sell a "national insurance card," which does not exist. They ask victims for the same type of personal information.
Scams used to be limited to phone calls and snail mail but now it's taken to the Internet, where it's harder to police criminal activities. Anyone can create a website, so you have to be very careful what URL you trust. If a website is asking you for your money, make sure the web address starts with "HTTPS" -- that means it's a secure site.
There are numerous fake Obamacare websites that claim to look like an insurance exchange, when they are really just individuals trying to take your money and obtain your personal information. For example, there was a website called the “Pennsylvania Health Exchange,” when in reality it turned out to be a private insurance broker that had nothing to do with Obamacare. The broker was eventually exposed by the government and news outlets.
Another scam has extended to those who are enrolled in Medicare. AARP said they have been receiving complaints from people over 65. The scammers are demanding their social security number and other private information, claiming they will lose their coverage, otherwise.
If you ever receive a cold call from someone who asks for your social security number or any other personal information, it’s safe to assume it’s a scam. The truth is, it’s illegal for insurers to sell an Affordable Care Act health exchange to anyone who is currently on Medicare.
Common Medicare scams often ask for your Medicare card number to "update record keeping" and/or offer "free services or equipment." If you have any questions you can call the toll-free number for Obamacare at 1-800-318-2596.
Another form of fraud that people need to be aware of is an email that claims that unless you sign up for Obamacare, you will go to jail.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most people do need to have health insurance however, if you don’t, you will not go to jail. Starting in 2014, if you do choose to opt-out of Obamacare, there will be a fine of $95 per person (family maximum of $285) or one percent of family income (whichever is greater).
The jail threat is another common tactic used to scare people out of their personal information. The Better Business Bureau has said prison threats are always illegal. Any employee from an actual bank, credit card company or any other financial institution will never threaten you with jail time.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a "representative," never reveal any of your personal information. Ignore all suspicious emails about Obamacare. If you have any questions, visit Healthcare.gov.