The first thing consumers should do to ward off potential scams is to turn away unsolicited phone calls.
“If you have people who are calling you unsolicited and asking for information over the phone, people just should not be doing that,” said Mary Wood, manager of the eligibility section of the Washington Health Care Authority, which manages Medicaid in the state.
Second, even if you believe you’re communicating with a legitimate person, don’t give out bank or credit-card information. “You should be very leery of anybody who asks you for personal identifiable information, who asks you for your credit card or your bank information,” said Lisa Erwin, senior counsel with the Office of the Attorney General.
“All of that is very much suspect and probably illegal. Anybody calling for the Affordable Care Act opportunities is not going to charge you money and is not going to want that information.”
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More tips on avoiding health-care scams are available on the Web from the Federal Trade Commission and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
The FTC tips can be found at: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0394-suspect-a-health-care-scam
. The exchange tips are available at www.wahbexchange.org/info-you/individuals-and-families/privacy-tips/.
And, said Erwin, if you suspect a contact to be improper, reach out. “If the consumer does have problems with someone who represents themselves as selling insurance, start with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. If you’re not sure that someone is a legitimate navigator, call the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. And the Attorney General’s Office is where general scams should be reported,” Erwin said.
If you think you may have already divulged information to an impostor, Erwin advised consumers to go straight to the Attorney General’s Office.
“If there is a scam artist out there, chances are we want to hear about that,” she said.
— Patrick Marshall