As employers offer open enrollment for their employees’ insurance plans, bad actors offer new scams to capture sensitive data that may lead to identity theft, loss of moneys, and benefits. The Better Business Bureau urges consumers to stay alert and protect their hard-earned-cash this holiday season.

It’s open enrollment season for health insurance, and scammers are using the occasion to dupe unsuspecting consumers into sharing their personal information. If you are adding or changing your health coverage through Medicare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be sure to watch out for scams. Open enrollment runs through December 7 (Medicare) or December 15 (ACA). Consumers who get health insurance at work should also be on the lookout for phony emails that may appear to come from their employer or a service provider.

How The Scam Works:

You receive a call from someone claiming to be a “Medicare advisor.” The caller tells you that they can enroll you in Medicare or another health insurance program over the phone, according to BBB.org/ScamTracker reports. It’s no hassle for you! All you need to do is provide personal information to get started. Of course, the caller is a scammer, and sharing personal information will open you up to identity theft.

In another version reported to BBB Scam Tracker, the caller tries to frighten you by insisting that your Medicare will be discontinued if you don’t re-enroll. Fortunately, the “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation – if only you share your personal information.

Tips To Avoid Scams:

Selecting a health insurance plan can be challenging and complex. Be on the lookout for common red flags.
  • Be wary of anyone who contacts you unsolicited. People representing Medicare or ACA plans don’t contact you by phone, email, or in person unless you are already enrolled. Be especially cautious of threatening calls that require quick action or immediate payment.
  • Decline promotional gifts in exchange for personal information. Keep a healthy level of skepticism any time a broker offers you free gifts, health screenings, or other special deals. Never sign up with a broker who offers you an expensive “sign-up gift” in exchange for providing your Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information.
  • Beware of dishonest brokers who offer “free health screenings.” Some brokers offer this to weed out people who are less healthy. This is called “cherry picking” and is against the Medicare rules.
  • BONUS TIP: Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan info, or banking information to anyone you don’t know.

More Information:

Learn more about open enrollment and spotting a Medicare or ACA scam on the Federal Trade Commission website.

If you are unsure whether a call or offer is from Medicare, or you gave your personal information to someone claiming to be with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it. If you suspect fraud when signing up for ACA coverage, go to healthcare.gov or call the Health Insurance Marketplace call center at 800-318-2596.

For more tips from BBB on avoiding health care scams, check BBB.org/HealthCareScam. If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. By sharing your experience, you can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams.

To stay alert and avoid falling for scams, read BBB.org/ScamTips. Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others protect themselves from similar schemes.

Always visit BBB.org to check the reliability of any company before doing business.  There you can also find a free list of BBB Accredited companies committed to ethical business practices.