BBB warns of Affordable Care Act scam

ATLANTA — The local Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about scams related to the Affordable Health Care Act.

According to the BBB, consumers across the U.S. are reporting phone calls that claim to be from the government about new health insurance cards required by the Affordable Care Act.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the BBB said these telephone calls are a scam, and it’s growing as the Oct. 1 implementation date for the Health Insurance Marketplace approaches.

The BBB said, “Con artists are taking advantage of people’s confusion about what exactly the Affordable Care Act means for them. Scammers’ favorite tools are confusion and fear.”

According to the BBB, this is the latest twist on the ‘Medicare scam’ that the Better Business Bureau has seen for years. “Whenever there is a new government program or new public policy, fraudsters will take advantage of people. But the simple fact is there is no Affordable Care card. It’s a scam,” the news released stated.

The BBB has issued several Scam Alerts warning consumers about scams related to what is commonly called “Obamacare,” but is stepping up efforts as the implementation date approaches.

The BBB explained how the scam works:

“You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The caller informs you that you’ve been selected as part of the initial group of Americans to receive insurance cards through the new Affordable Care Act. However, before the caller can mail your card, they need to verify personal information, such as your bank account and Social Security numbers.”

The BBB is urging consumers to ignore these pitches and use the following precautions when dealing with this type of scam:

“Be cautious with your identity. Never give personal information to someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether by phone, email, social media or in person,” the organization said in the news release.

They advised, “Hang up, don’t press any buttons and don’t call back. Returning the phone call may just give the con artist information he can use.”

The BBB explained, the government uses regular mail, “Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be cautious of calls, text messages or emails.”

They added, “Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.”

Consumers are cautioned to keep personal information to themselves and to never give out personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, date of birth or Social Security numbers to unfamiliar callers.

For more information on the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, go to healthcare.gov. To report a scam or sign up for BBB scam alerts, go to bbb.org/scam.