FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The marketplace for buying health insurance has been up and running since Oct. 1. The new Affordable Care Act law is still confusing for some, causing people to fall victim to fake enrollment sites.
"During large-scale government roll-outs, scammers come out of the woodwork to take advantage of any confusion surrounding the program -- luring people away from legitimate websites and posing as employees or agents of the agency," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. "Additionally, with many federal agencies closed, help is even harder to find, so it’s necessary for those of us in state offices to fill this vacuum."
The Better Business Bureau across the country has been investigating these illegitimate websites that consumers have been reporting. Marjorie Stephens, with the BBB of Northern Indiana, said there's only one website people should visit to learn or buy health insurance.
"When they go to a website, go to a .gov, don't go to a .com," she said. "Where that will probably link you into a lot of information."
Social media has been another medium where people have posted misinformation about the Affordable Care Act law. Anthony Juliano, social media strategist with the Asher Agency, said readers tend to favor information that's more in line with their point of view, which could be harmful.
"I highly recommend that we all do is that we pay attention to information beyond just what we like to believe is true, or that speaks to our personal preference," he said.
Another way consumers are being duped into buying health insurance is by receiving phone calls. Stephens said if you get a phone, it's not legitimate. No one with the government will call someone to sell health insurance. She said don't even trust the caller I.D. because people taking advantage of others in this situation have systems to manipulate the caller I.D. Her advice, if someone calls trying to sell health insurance, hang up.
The Better Business Bureau has provided DO's and DON'T's when it comes to learning and buying health insurance through the marketplace.
• Get your homework done: Study up on the Affordable Care Act program and how it affects you by using sites such as HealthCare.gov. The more you know, the more easily you can spot a scam.
• Conduct business in person, with people you trust. A good starting point is your existing insurance or benefits adviser. Even if he or she can't help you directly, they probably can refer you to a legitimate, certified provider.
• Use ".gov" websites as sources of links to other sites. They're less likely than ".biz," ".info," or ".us" sites to be fakes.
• Verify that an agent or navigator is legitimate.
• Question your caller ID. Some scammers have devices that can "spoof" caller ID to display false identification.
• Report fraud and attempts to proper authorities: If someone tries to scam you, notify agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission or Fraud.org that can do something about it. If you get scammed, notify your bank, credit card companies and major credit bureaus.
• Pay someone claiming to be a "navigator." Persons and agencies serving as navigators -- members of social service organizations or advocacy groups who help people use the health insurance exchanges created by the law to choose among insurance plans -- must be certified and aren't allowed to charge for their services.
• Share personal information via telephone: The government, and legitimate businesses, won't call you out of the blue and ask about your bank account and Social Security numbers, or your birth date.
• Bite on phishing scams: Crooks might create websites that "spoof" the real ones. Check the address of the site you're on before entering personal information or clicking links. Run your mouse pointer over the link; does the address that pops up match the one you were given? Numbers and dashes in a site's address — especially when there are several — often indicate a site that's not legitimate.
• Believe that the person calling on the telephone works for the government. Federal and state agencies rarely conduct financial transactions on the phone.
• Fall prey to a caller threatening you with jail time: Some scammers have claimed that consumers will go to jail if they don't buy insurance cards. The individual mandate portion of ACA does not provide for jail sentences.
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