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Haywire healthcare insurance marketplace website creates playground for scammers

By Cassandra Webb, cwebb@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:05:29 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 14 2013 11:31:28 AM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

The health insurance marketplace has been full of glitches. These errors have created a playground for thieves and scammers.

According to the National Consumers League, consumers have complained about scam artists contacting them by phone, email or even in person.

The scammers are using phrases like "it's the law" and "the government requires it" to pressure people into giving out their bank account and social security numbers.

Local financial expert Troy Sutton of the Sutton Financial Group said confusion is a thief's opportunity.

"Once you give them your bank account information, or your personal information, like social security numbers and stuff like that, you've invited a world of hurt into your life," Sutton said.

According to Sutton, scammers apply pressure to unsuspecting folks and that's how they get your money.

Sutton said anyone can be targeted, not just the uninsured.

"They're just trying to find anyone that they can and the more people they talk to, the more people they'll sell on the con or the scam," Sutton said.

"Always keep a skeptical mind when you are getting contacted unsolicitedly [sic]. When someone is just contacting you out of the blue, especially if they're coming to your door, that would be a big, red flag," Sutton said.

Here are some other red flags:

Saying you need a new insurance care or your doctor won't treat you.

Saying you need a new Medicare card or else you'll lose your coverage.

Requiring a fee for enrolling you in the insurance exchange.

Offering you a fake insurance plan that's really cheap.

Offering you a discount insurance plan that claims to meet new law requirements.

Senior citizens - be warned:

"Medicare is not affected by the exchange," Sutton said. "If you're on Medicare, you don't have to do anything so don't listen to anyone who says you do have to do something. You might get hornswaggled!," he said. 

Sutton said there are people with credentials called "navigators" who are trained and certified to help you understand your healthcare options and help you enroll. Navigators aren't allowed to charge you anything and you should ask for their credentials before moving forward.

We wanted to find out more about how you can protect yourself and here's what we found out:

Don't talk about money over the phone or email.

Don't wire money or put money on a prepaid card.

Be careful of fake websites that look like official insurance exchange sites.

Report any fraudulent activity to the Better Business Bureau or the National Consumers League.