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Consumer Scammers Use New Health Insurance Measure to Target Seniors

Posted: Oct 22, 2013 4:14 PM by Hailee Hopkins, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Oct 22, 2013 7:52 PM

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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Extension said scammers are using the President's health care act to target seniors.

"The affordable health care act is a little complicated, actually its probably a lot complicated, and anytime you have a complicated subject come up, there's a lot of room for people to come in and make up information to scam people," said assistant professor Andrew Zumwalt.

The new measure allows Americans without health insurance to sign up in online exchanges until March. Coverage begins January 1st for those who sign up by December 15th.

Scammers are using phone calls and e-mails to go after seniors on Medicare.

"I've seen a lot of scams where people will call up and say oh I need your personal information to confirm, or I need a credit card to insure that you get this benefit, whether it be a prescription benefit card or something else," said Zumwalt.

He added, "a lot of people think its very confusing, and they'll just give their credit card number."

Zumwalt said the calls tell seniors they need to sign up for something new before their health care coverage expires or in order to keep it current.

"Medicare is something that's very important to seniors, they don't want to lose their Medicare, or they don't want to lose out on any of the benefits, so it's a way for people to prey on their emotions and get that information," said Zumwalt.

The University of Missouri Extension said it's also important to watch out for scams that come online. Some sites may pose as though they're helping you sign up for health care, when they're really attempting to steal personal information.

"Some emails have come out and they've said oh you click here to confirm and then it takes you to a website that tries to collect your personal information," said Zumwalt.

According to Zumwalt, the safest place for people to sign up for health insurance is at HealthCare.gov.

The nursing director at Phoenix Home Care said the best way to prevent being scammed is to confirm all information.

"Always verify that the person who is there to do service is from the company that they say they are," said Trish Rockers of Phoenix Home Care. Rockers added, "Never give your personal information over the phone or to a person unless, you've called a company's number yourself to talk to them."

Tips about buying health care insurance are available at HealthCare.gov.

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