BBB Offers Tips to Help Consumers Avoid Phony Affordable Care Act Websites

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Affordable Care ActThe Affordable Care Act continues to reveal significant security problems. Not only have attorneys general from several states convened on the subject, but the Better Business Bureau is also warning consumers to stay clear of scammers.

Fraudsters are creating phony Affordable Care Act websites to trick consumers into inputting personal information into scam sites which can lead to identity theft, says the BBB.

Earlier this week, authorities in California shut down 10 fake ACA websites, amid nationwide concern among law enforcement officials about potential fraud during the program’s rollout. In several cases, websites used the phrases “Get Covered,” “Covered California” and “California Health Benefit Advisers.”

So if you or a loved one receive an email or text encouraging you to sign up by clicking on the link provided, don’t fall for it! Remember, an identity thief simply needs your name, birthdate, and Social Security number to steal your good name and wreak havoc on your credit score.

The BBB has these tips to help you avoid fake Affordable Care Act websites:

  • Don’t use a Google search for help. Go to the government’s official website instead, which can lead you to websites owned by individual state governments. The official website is http://www.healthcare.gov.
  • Check for a digital certificate. This is the website’s way of proving it is an official Affordable Care Act website.
  • Ignore unsolicited phone calls or emails. If a government official calls or emails you asking for your information, don’t respond.

Identity Thief’s Dream

Even on the legitimate (though admittedly flawed) Healthcare.gov website, users must enter personal information like Social Security and Medicaid numbers, as well as bank account information.

“With the Affordable Care Act being a new program involving online enrollment, consumers can be easily fooled by lookalike websites with similar web addresses, and scammers are exploiting consumer confusion,” said Tom Bartholomy, president of the Charlotte, NC bureau of BBB.

Hackers are naturally trying to figure out ways to exploit this information; this is an identity thief’s dream.

The Department of Health and Human Services has admitted to more than a dozen unsuccessful hacking attempts already on Healthcare.gov — the federal agency has hired a hacker to search for holes in the system.

 

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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi's manager of digital content strategy.