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Insurance scams are spiking. Take these steps to protect yourself

Scammers are becoming so brazen in their tactics that they are going so far as to impersonate federal officials. This month, an alert was issued that criminals are phoning potential victims, claiming to be FBI agents. Tap or click here for details of this nasty scam.

They have also tapped into people’s fears of missing out on an Amazon delivery by requesting personal information to “rectify a problem with your order.” All these tactics are obviously used to confuse and scare victims into giving them sensitive information.

Now, thieves are turning their attention to healthcare. It makes total sense since we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. With insurance scams spiking, it’s critical to watch for these signs of a scam to stay protected.

Scamming the sick through healthcare

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has re-opened the process to sign up for healthcare through HealthCare.gov. As COVID-19 caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, many are now looking for health insurance.

The Special Enrollment Period will start on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, and lasts until May 15, 2021. This will give unemployed people a chance to get the insurance that they desperately need.

Unfortunately, this has also opened the door for scammers to target them. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes, scammers capitalize on the fact that potential applicants will have questions regarding signing up.

“Scammers know you have questions about the special enrollment, and they’re taking advantage of that to mislead you. This gives scammers a new chance to call, email, send letters and texts, trying to get your money — and your personal and financial information,” the consumer division of the FTC wrote.

How to protect your money and personal information

There are several ways the criminals will try to steal your information and money. Here are some tips from the FTC on staying safe:

  • No one from the government will call you about health insurance, or ask you to verify your Social Security number or financial information. People who do are scammers.
  • People who offer legitimate help with the Health Insurance Marketplace — sometimes called Navigators or Assisters — are not allowed to charge you for their help. If someone asks you for payment, it’s a scam.
  • People representing Affordable Care Act plans won’t contact you by phone, email, or in person unless you are already enrolled.
  • If you’re planning to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, do it at HealthCare.gov. People who try to sign you up elsewhere just might be scamming you.

The FTC advises that if you suspect a scam, you should immediately report it through ReportFraud.ftc.gov so they can launch an investigation.

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