It’s mid-November and the Affordable Care Act open enrollment season is in full swing.
While official 2022-2023 numbers won’t be available until 2023, last year’s open enrollment period saw 14.5 million Americans enroll in government-sponsored health insurance plans.
The open registration for the ACA, which runs from November 1, 2022 to February 15, 2023, also carries certain risks in the form of healthcare scams and fraudulent activity.
These scams usually pose as too-good-to-be-true health insurance offers, which should be a red flag for healthcare consumers, but time and time again, that’s not the case.
“According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), healthcare scams increase during open enrollment,” said OneRep chief executive Dimitri Shelest. “People looking for healthcare plans can expect an increase in unwanted calls and emails. In daily interactions with our healthcare provider customers, they note that users are already reporting an increase of these activities. It is definitely a priority for them.
The Biggest ACA Open Enrollment Scams for 2022-2023
Fraud experts are sounding the alarm over ACA-related scams, which seem to be getting more aggressive.
“These attacks are almost always sophisticated operations involving social engineering and the search for a victim’s personal information,” Shelest told TheStreet. “Criminals collect this information from any source available to them – from people-finding sites to social media – and use it to steal the identities of their victims.”
What are the biggest scam threats for open sign-up consumers? These fraud scenarios are the most appreciated by security experts.
Phishing scams. Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated in using phishing scams to target people this year.
“A go-to tactic is to create carefully crafted emails that appear to be sent from HealthCare.gov,” said Ari Parker, co-founder of Chapter, a Medicare services company. “Too many unsuspecting people are responding to these messages and providing their personal or financial information.”
ACA visitors should never share identifying information through email such as banking, credit card or other financial account numbers.
“It’s especially during the ACA’s open registration season, because that’s when scams tend to increase,” Parker told TheStreet.
Identity theft scams. Another popular tactic that scammers often use is to call you directly pretending to be in the health insurance market or directly from health insurance companies.
The FCC cites a major case where robocalls falsely claimed to offer plans from well-known health insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and Cigna.
“The real BCBS offers fraud prevention advice on its website, warning that it has received complaints about scammers using ‘spoofing’ to make it look like calls are coming from its nationwide customer service number “Call Blue” (888-630-2583),” the agency noted in a consumer warning. “However, the toll-free number can only receive incoming calls, according to BCBS, and they do not use that number to place calls.”
Therefore, if the “Call Blue” customer service number appears on your caller ID, the call is malicious and you should not answer, the FCC says.
This is good advice for all calls taken by health insurance consumers during open enrollment.
“Do not share any financial information with ACA-related callers to protect your wallet and save you the mental anguish of being a victim of financial fraud,” Parker advised.
The “You missed open registration” scam. Fraudsters will call, text or email Americans to warn them that they are about to miss or have already missed the ACA’s open registration period (again, the period s extends from November 1, 2022 to February 15, 2023.)
“Alaska’s Pension and Benefits Division announced a sophisticated phishing scam this month that falsely informed recipients that they had missed the open enrollment period,” the CEO said. from Modulus, Richard Gardner, an internationally renowned phishing and fraud expert. “As we enter the open enrollment period, there will be an increased attempt to scam consumers in attempts like this.”
ACA consumers will want to ensure that all emails they receive are from official agencies and institutions. “If in doubt, don’t click on any links,” Gardner told TheStreet. “Instead, go directly to the institution’s website to find the information you need.”
Email Fraud. Typically, this form of open registration fraud occurs when cybercriminals infiltrate a victim’s email account.
“Fraudsters often contact health plan recorders and administrators to lure them into the trap, impersonate the victim, and request the addition of new accounts and authorized users,” Shelest said.
How will you know you are a victim of this form of fraud? Shelest points to these red flags.
– You realize that you have not received any recent emails from a Plan Archivist/Administrator.
– Your password no longer works and access to your account is denied.
– A customer representative tells you that your verification information is incorrect.
“Once you gain access to your account, several things can confirm ACA-related data theft, including changes to your email address, phone numbers, and mailing address, as well as users unauthorized parties who have changed your username or password,” Shelest added.
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