There are three aspects of the Affordable Care Act that make it easy for scams to thrive. First, the law affects nearly every American in some way, so consumers across the U.S. are vulnerable to getting scammed. Second, the act is not standardized nationwide, allowing each state to administer the law in different ways. Third, the complexity of the law leaves consumers confused.
Expect scammers to be counting on consumers’ lack of knowledge and confusion regarding the law in order to perpetrate their scams. Government officials will not call about health insurance and would never ask for personal information over the phone.
The Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services offers consumers the following tips to protect themselves from such scams.
· Protect your personal information: Never give out your personal information such as credit card, bank account or social security numbers over the telephone, email or in person, especially when unsolicited. If meeting in person, verify the representative’s credentials.
· Be cautious of how you are contacted: Government agencies usually communicate by regular mail so be cautious of unsolicited calls, emails or text messages.
· It may not be what it appears: Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any area code, telephone number or name on your caller ID screen.
· What’s the hurry: Don’t feel rushed or pressured into signing up. Take your time to research your options.
Those shopping for insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace are reminded that Pinellas County has a Navigator program set up to guide individuals through the selection process. Interested parties can call (727) 464-8411 to set up an appointment to talk with a Marketplace counselor at any one of three convenient Pinellas County locations.
For more information on the Affordable Care Act go to www.healthcare.gov. If you think you may be a victim of a scam, contact the Pinellas County Department of Justice & Consumer Service at www.pinellascounty.org/consumer or at 727-464-6200.
For more information on Pinellas County services and programs, visit www.pinellascounty.org, now with LiveChat, or create a shortcut to www.pinellascounty.org/mobile on any smartphone. Pinellas County government is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.