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Don't fall for new health care scam

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins in October. The scam says you're already eligible.

By Mitch Lipka May 21, 2013 3:52PM
Image: US Capitol (© Donovan Reese/Getty Images)A new scam that uses the not-yet-launched Affordable Care Act open enrollment as a guise to getting personal information from consumers is being reported all over the country, the Better Business Bureau said.
The BBB issued a warning about the scam, which involves getting a phone call claiming the recipient is eligible to receive health insurance cards under the act. However, the open enrollment period does not begin until October.

It can be a bit confusing to be on the receiving end of one of these calls. The caller pretends to be from the federal government, calling to inform the victim that they've been chosen to be part of the first group to get insurance cards under the Affordable Care Act.

This is when it's time to hang up ...

The caller then says that in order to process the card they'll have to collect certain personal and financial information, such as a Social Security number and bank account information.

It's always a big red flag when you get a phone call and the caller asks you for information about yourself.

"Of course, it's a scam," the BBB said. "There is no card, and enrollment for insurance under the Affordable Care Act doesn't start until Oct. 1. Sharing personal information with a scammer puts you at risk for identity theft. Scammers can use the info they obtain to open credit cards in your name or steal from your bank account."

It isn't unusual for scams to be connected to government programs that are not fully understood by the public. When everyone was talking about the federal stimulus package, scams about government grants abounded.

Here are the BBB's tips about how to fend off scams like this:
  • Hang up, don't press any buttons and don't call the scammer back. We all like to have the last word, but returning the phone call may just give the con artist information he can use.
  • The government typically doesn't call, text or email.  Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited calls, text messages or emails you receive. Also, if the government is contacting you, they should already have your basic personal info, such as address and social security number. 
  • Don't trust caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.
  • Never give out personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth or social security numbers to unfamiliar callers.

More from MSN Money:

May 22, 2013 6:44PM
LOL! I don't know if these scams are connected by my grandmother got a call purportedly from Medicare telling her she'd get a new ID. She just needed to verify her identity by providing her credit card information. She pretended to believe the caller, left him on the line "to get her purse where her credit card was", and then continued knitting. We didn't know how long the caller stayed. We checked the phone line after an hour. :) 

We then reported the call to to raise a warning and to the FTC in an attempt to shut the scam down. 
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