If you’re preparing to sign up for Obamacare then chances are you are having doubts about how your private information is being handled on the website. There are several scams that have cropped up targeting the general public switching to the new mandatory healthcare plan. Today we’re talking about some of the new scams and how you can avoid falling victim to them.
Obamacare, AKA the Affordable Care Act, is a plan to get all Americans covered by a healthcare insurance plan of their choice by January 2014. Signing up requires you to access healthcare.gov in order to give vital information such as your name, social security number and location so that you get access to the plans available for you.
The website’s Terms and Conditions page has an assurance regarding the safety of information that you submit. However, there is a disclaimer that isn’t included in this page which states that
“You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.”
This effectively protects and absolves the government of any responsibility in case your information lands in the hands of bad guys such as identity thieves.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can have your identity and personal information compromised:
Phishing scams are used by identity thieves who take advantage of misspellings and less than careful people wanting to access the healthcare.gov website to sign up for Obamacare. Let’s say you forgot the letter ‘l’ in healthcare. You’re probably still going to access a website; however, chances are that the site you’ll land on will be a scammer site that will look as legitimate as the original healthcare.gov site. Once you enter your information in this kind of site, it gets sent to identity thieves who will then use your information to access your credit cards, bank accounts and income reports.
Calls, Home Visits and Emails about a Healthcare Insurance Card
There are no insurance cards when it comes to Obamacare. However, most people don’t know this. Insurance cards were common under the previous Medicare plan. You might receive a call, email or a house visit from someone asking you to provide your social security number so you can get your insurance card. Please ignore or report such individuals and do not give them any personal information.
Scammers Posing as Advisers
There’s a general feeling of confusion when it comes to Obamacare; most people have no idea where they are going to get more information regarding the plan. As a result, there are lots of nonprofits stationed around malls and community lots to educate the public. However, not all of these groups are legit; some of them are posing as advisers simply because they want to manipulate you into giving them your bank account information, tax details or social security number for malicious purposes.
The general rule of thumb is to not speak to anyone regarding your choice of insurance package, and to be doubtful and suspicious of anyone who seems too eager to help you out when it comes to picking your Obamacare package.
Staying Safe While Signing Up
Here are a few tips that might help you avoid identity theft when signing up for Obamacare:
1. The main website has an “s’” at the end of the http prefix. This is something that you should ensure always exists for you safety. There’s also a padlock sign at the beginning of the address signaling that the website’s security has been verified by appropriate web security firms.
2. If someone threatens you with a fine if you refuse to give information or don’t sign up for a particular plan, run the other way. This is because these fines will be assessed and applied according to your tax returns next year; they’re not instant fines.
3. Keep an eye on your bank account, credit card spending and other information if you suspect that your identity has been stolen. This will help you identify any suspicious activity and take immediate action to stop these identity thieves from stealing or misusing your funds.
4. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, call the relevant credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and immediately let them know so they can take action.
5. You can also call the Federal Trade Commission hotline on 877-438-4338 to file a complaint as soon as possible if your identity has been stolen.
Stay safe out there Ghosts. New initiatives like this are rich breeding grounds for scammers.