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Scammers may target ACA shoppers

ALBANY -- Keeping your identity and your wallet healthy.  We've reported for weeks now how scammers are on the prowl and using the Affordable Care Act as their disguise.  Now less than a week into the launch of the online exchanges, there is some information every shopper needs to know.

It's important to remember that enrollment is open until march so there is no rush to sign on now -- no matter what a scam artist might tell you.  There's very little you should be telling anyone when it comes to personal information, and your money, if you want to keep it your own.

"Because we have millions and millions of new people coming in to the system, not enough is being done," said Dennis Jay, Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

The number of scams could only increase as we shop for insurance, Jay warns.  "There's a lot of confusion, the newness of it, and there's a whole lot of people that never purchased health insurance before," he said.  "It's just kind-of the "Perfect Storm" for these con artists to come out of the woodwork and rip people off."

Scammers are looking to steal personal information, and even your money, threatening people with jail time if they don't cooperate.

"No one that helps you that's an official helper for new york state of health will ever charge you for that assistance," said Donna Frescatore, executive director of the NY State of Health.  "We think it's very important that consumers understand that."

You should be making the calls.  Don't give information to anyone who may call or show up at home without you arranging it.  Ask questions, and write everything down.  Don't sign anything you don't understand.  And remember, no one can charge you a fee to enroll.

"You always know who you're giving your giving your personal information to," Frescatore said.  "That you guard that information."

There are 500 navigators deployed around the state to help you understand the Affordable Care Act and try to match you with the right plan.  Some may be phony.

"These navigators that are being hired will all have an official government ID, make sure to check that," Jay said.  "Don't give people bank account information, social security information, or Medicare ID over the phone."

"If they suspect that they've been approached by someone who's not an official representative of NY State of Health we've given them information on who to contact," Frescatore said.

The state has information on its website you can use to protect yourself against fraud.  You can visit that page by clicking here.

You can call the Marketplace Customer Service Center at 1 (855) 355-5777.
The New York State Attorney General's Office has a Health Care Helpline at 1 (800) 428-9071.
The Department of Financial Services Consumer Hotline may also be reached at 1(800) 342-3736.