Agents and financial planners should warn their Medicare clients of a growing threat: the launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is attracting scammers who target Medicare recipients.
An Oct. 1 Reuters newswire article reported that consumer advocates and legal experts are seeing a rise in ACA-related identity theft and other scams targeting people on Medicare. The government shut-down also may be providing scammers more fodder. And the calendar proximity of the Oct. 1 ACA launch with Medicare’s Oct. 15 kick-off of the annual enrollment period is further complicating matters.
Because political attacks on the law, also known as Obamacare, already have confused many seniors, scam artists are feeding off that misinformation to further scare them, the article said.
"They'll tell you Obamacare means you need to change your Medicare, or that you need to re-apply for Medicare — or that if you don't buy a new kind of insurance you're going to get fined or go to jail," Joe Baker, president of the non-profit Medicare Rights Center, told Reuters.
Another article reported that scammers calling Medicare recipients claim to need personal information so that the recipients’ Medicare coverage will not be disrupted or so that seniors will receive a rebate. There also are reports of fake websites displaying official-looking government seals and purporting to offer Obamacare insurance policies.
So how is a Medicare recipient supposed to keep it all straight and be safe?
As an agent or retirement planner, you’re in a position to further build your trust with these clients. Tell them to be aware of scams and follow these guidelines:
The BBB suggests following these precautions for unsolicited calls: