October 24, 2014 - 1:35am
The U.S. health care system has changed significantly since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The federal law introduced many changes to the insurance space and health care market and helped change the way that people shop for health insurance coverage. With the launch of insurance exchanges, new marketplaces were opened up to consumers, but these exchanges also represented a promising opportunity for scammers that are looking to exploit a person’s private information.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning about the growing prevalence of insurance scams, and there are some things that people can do to protect themselves and their information when shopping for insurance coverage.
Be Careful About What You Share Online
Many insurance scams seek to collect personal information through fraudulent websites. These sites can be designed to look official, but are merely fronts for criminal activity. Many fraudulent sites attempt to show that they represent an insurance or government agency, offering policies at discounted rates, but the policies that these sites offer are not real and exist only to collect information, such as medical records.
Beware of Unsolicited Calls
Sometimes, scammers prefer to take a more direct approach and will disguise themselves as insurance agents representing a reputable company or exchange. These people often attempt to call consumers and offer inexpensive insurance policies based on the information that they provide. Insurance exchanges do not randomly contact consumers and organizations promoting coverage through exchanges will never ask for personal information to be shared over the phone.
Keeping records of all salespeople you may come in contact with, as well as the names of their representative companies, could be valuable if your information is ever compromised. Information can be used for or against you, and collecting information from the agents or organizations trying to sell you insurance could be a powerful tool in keeping yourself safe. Reputable organizations have little concern with sharing their own information.
Research can help uncover a scam relatively quickly. Searching for a company’s name and the complaints lodged against them online can provide some insight into whether or not that company can be trusted. An organization with a poor, or non-existent, reputation may be something to avoid.