(RNN) - Beginning Oct. 1, consumers will be able to create an account and start shopping for healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Unfortunately, the confusion over Obamacare has created an opportunity for scammers to prey on the public. With the goal of identity theft or robbery, the con artists target vulnerable people who don't understand how the new healthcare exchange will work or how to go about signing up for it.
The FTC says that consumers should beware of any offers to enroll in the new Health Insurance Marketplace before Oct. 1. Consumers should hang up immediately if they receive a call from someone claiming to be from the government who asks for personal information, such as Social Security number, Medicare ID, or other personal or financial information.
A common scam is the card scam. A fraudster will call a consumer, claim to work for the government and encourage the person to immediately register for a healthcare card in order to be covered by Obamacare. The caller may go so far as to threaten the consumer with jail if they do not sign up right away and demand a bank account number or other personal information.
Seniors and low-income citizens are at risk for falling victim to scammers who impersonate ACA Navigators or Medicare officials, who are trying to get consumers to reveal their personal information. It's important to note that it is illegal for someone to sell a Health Insurance Marketplace plan to someone who has Medicare.
Fake exchanges have also popped up with the goal of duping people. These "phishing" websites are designed to look like legitimate sites, but are only there to confuse and swindle consumers. Consumers can find legitimate information about the Health Insurance Marketplace and Affordable Care Act online at Healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.
Although not technically a scam, consumers should also be wary of discount medical plans that are not insurance. One must pay a sign-up fee and monthly fees that are supposed to entitle the subscriber to deeply discounted medical services from the participants in the network. In essence, the discount medical plans are simply lists of healthcare providers who might offer a discount on some of their services. They are not a substitute for health insurance, and will not meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Consumers who have been the victim of a scam or an attempted scam, should contact the FTC Complaint Assistant or call them at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
Monday, March 10 2014 10:08 PM EDT2014-03-11 02:08:59 GMT
The man accused of kidnapping and killing Holly Bobo will face a judge for the first time in the case Tuesday, and his family has now hired an attorney to represent him. Jennifer Lynn Thompson will representMore >>
The man accused of kidnapping and killing Holly Bobo will face a judge for the first time in the case Tuesday, and his family has now hired an attorney to represent him.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 10:06 PM EDT2014-03-11 02:06:18 GMT
Tennessee state troopers are writing twice as many tickets for texting while driving, but it seems many drivers are not afraid to break the law. The Tennessee Highway Patrol handed out 803 citations lastMore >>
Tennessee state troopers are writing twice as many tickets for texting while driving, but it seems many drivers are not afraid to break the law.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-03-11 00:26:59 GMT
Tennessee lawmakers are trying to protect people who break into hot cars to save unattended children from extreme temperatures. In the past, some rescuers have broken windows to try and save children fromMore >>
Tennessee lawmakers are trying to protect people who break into hot cars to save unattended children from extreme temperatures.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 8:11 PM EDT2014-03-11 00:11:04 GMT
Tonight, two Murfreesboro residents have fire fighters to thank for possibly saving their lives. Just after 7:00 p.m., rescuers responded to The Wood at Greenland apartment complex. The two residentsMore >>
Two Murfreesboro residents have fire fighters to thank for possibly saving their lives Sunday night.
Monday, March 10 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-03-10 23:45:45 GMT
Money meant for the upkeep of a Murfreesboro neighborhood is now missing, and police have a lot of questions for the woman who was supposed to be keeping track of it all. "I'm almost speechless. It's unbelievableMore >>
Money meant for the upkeep of a Murfreesboro neighborhood is now missing, and police have a lot of questions for the woman who was supposed to be keeping track of it all.More >>