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Health Reform Spawning Scams and Fraud

Posted by easysavingmoneytips on May 13, 2011


 

 

Health Reform Spawning Scams and Fraud

Scammers are attacking our bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, and our identities. They are assaulting us over the internet, over the phone and in our homes. The con artists are becoming increasingly sophisticated at their games. One new alarming trend is for the scammers to sell fraudulent health care insurance. In the following article Parija Kavilanz of CNNMoney.com highlights what to watch out for and how to protect yourself from health insurance scams.    

Fraud experts say health insurance scams are on the rise as criminals quickly exploit consumers’ confusion about how the new health care law changes their insurance coverage.

Most of the schemes are poorly constructed, using the pretext of reform. “So far there’s no major criminal organization behind them,” said James Quiggle, spokesman for non-profit group Coalition
Against Insurance Fraud.

But Quiggle is concerned that as more of the provisions mandated by the new law are phased in over the next four years, these scams “could grow to become an all-encompassing tsunami.”

The government has taken note. Earlier this year, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned state insurance commissioners about new schemes to sell bogus insurance policies.

Last week, HHS announced grants to states to strengthen ongoing efforts to protect consumers from some of the worst insurance industry practices.

Consumers beware: Sally Hurme, who handles consumer fraud issues at AARP, said seniors are especially vulnerable to these new scams. “We’re making a concerted effort to get the word out to our 40 million members,” she said.

But seniors aren’t the only targets. People who buy insurance out of pocket — unemployed individuals, underinsured individuals, as well as individuals who do not get dependent coverage through their work — are also vulnerable, said Lou Saccocio, head of the National Health-Care Anti-Fraud Association, whose members include insurers, law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

Saccocio, citing anecdotal information, said the most common scams involve selling fake health plans, fraudulent medical discount plans and Medicare rebate checks scams.

Here’s What to Watch Out For:

Phantom government coverage: Scammers, claiming they represent the government, go door-to-door selling fake policies. “These crooks tell people without insurance that the law requires them to buy a policy immediately,” said Quiggle. “They also say there’s a limited enrollment period to sign up.”

Both claims are false. There is no enrollment period in the individual market. And the law gives uninsured individuals until 2014 to buy coverage before having to pay a penalty.

Fraudulent discount plans: Crooks are taking advantage of heightened concerns about health insurance costs to sell people “discount plans” disguised as insurance plans, said Kim Holland, Oklahoma’s insurance commissioner.

Holland said these medical discount plans are not insurance policies. These plans only provide discounts on some medical services. The Federal Trade Commission said 24 states have filed 54 lawsuits this year to stop this deceptive practice.

“Some states have outlawed these plans,” said Holland.

$250 Medicare rebate scam: For beneficiaries who’ve fallen into the prescription-drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole,” the law created a program this year where the government mails them a $250 check to cover the gap.

Quiggle said scammers are exploiting this opportunity by calling up seniors, asking for their Social Security and Medicare beneficiary numbers, and promising to expedite the checks.

The crooks will then use the information to bill Medicare for false services.

AARP’s Hurme said the group has also become aware of a Medicare card scam. “Scammers are telling seniors that because of the changes in the law, they will have to send them a new card,” she said. And they ask for their personal information.

“This is blatant identity theft,” Hume added.

Peter Ashkenaz, spokesman for the Center for Medicare & Medicare Services, said the agency was aware of anecdotal reports of such scams.

“We have aggressive efforts in place to educate beneficiaries that they do not need to do anything to get the $250 rebate checks,” he said.

How to Protect Yourself

As key provisions of the health care law continue to be phased in, scammers will try to take advantage of consumers who aren’t aware of the new changes.

Coming up in January, Medicare beneficiaries will not have to pay co-pays on preventive services. Ashkenaz said scammers might try to exploit that change.

Experts stress the need for consumers to educate themselves about the new law. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also offered these tips on how to avoid being a victim.

Beware of fax, email, telephone poll solicitations: Be especially suspicious of solicitations that are blasted to consumers through these means.

Check if insurer is legit: Don’t give out any personal information such as your Social Security numbers or bank information until you verify with your state insurance department that the insurer and agent are licensed to write insurance in your state.

Keep paperwork: Ask for copies of all of the paperwork you sign. Keep a copy of the payment receipt or check for your initial premium payment.

30-day deadline: Call the insurer if you don’t receive a copy of your insurance policy outlining your coverage within 30 days of your purchase.

Medicare beneficiaries: If you are approached to buy any kind of medical insurance package, do not give any personal information to anyone you don’t know.

Additionally, Hurme said the AARP launched a major campaign called “Fight Health care Fraud” in September to educate seniors.

“Seniors can get information on our website,” she said. “We’re also training volunteers to go to senior centers in various states to educate the community.”

Be sure to come back and post your comments, we appreciate your feedback. If you are interested in ways to saving money, check out http://waystosavingmoney.net/

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Riskiest Places to Use Your Credit Card

Posted by easysavingmoneytips on March 11, 2011


Important information about the “Riskiest Places to Use Your Credit Card” With gas prices soaring and unemployment still high, there are more criminals out there looking for Free Money. Use your credit cards and ATM cards with caution; “Yahoo Finance” informs us of the 10 riskiest places thieves are looking to gather information on your ATM and credit cards.

Be sure to come back and post your comments, we appreciate your feedback. If you are interested in more ways to saving money, check out http://waystosavingmoney.net/

Even if you use the utmost caution, you can still be a victim of credit card fraud. Credit card companies and banks are more and more often putting the onus of catching phony or incorrect credit card charges on the consumer.

The most important thing is to check your billing statement, of course. And there are organizations like Creditcards.com that offer tips on how to keep your cards safe as well. Here, we take a look at 10 of the riskiest places you might use your card, according to Creditcards.com, and what you can do to avoid the dangers.

Non-Bank Owned ATMs
Encryption at these ATMs is often not as good as at bank ATMs, meaning some locations are just not as safe. These ATMs also are more likely to be hacked. And in some cases, people have put up devices that look like ATMs but don’t give out cash. Instead, they are just card-skimming devices aimed at stealing your credit card or debit card information.

Flea Markets
Flea market merchants are often transient and can be difficult to locate if there is a problem with charges. It’s especially true for vendors who don’t have online credit card terminals and instead make carbon copies of your credit card.

That doesn’t mean those vendors are necessarily fraudulent, but it makes the transaction less secure. The credit card company might have trouble doing a charge back. If you’re going to the flea market, take cash. It’s also easier to negotiate that way.

Small Shops/Cafes in Foreign Countries
These smaller merchants have a significantly higher percentage of credit card fraud as reported by large banks and credit card companies. Many of these transactions end up being written off by the banks because the merchants simply can’t be located. There’s just a higher chance of fraud when you get outside of the mainstream, so when in doubt, use cash.

Non-Secure Online Checkout
General common sense. Any safe, reputable e-commerce site is going to have a secure checkout page, like the one shown at left. If that doesn’t appear, it should be a red flag. You can almost be sure it’s not legitimate, and even if it is, you’re opening yourself to that transaction being seen by others.

Wi-Fi Hotspots and Public Computers
If you’re going to be making online transactions over an unsecured wireless connection like in cafes, parks and other hot spots, data can be compromised or seen while in transit, even if you’re on a secure page while you’re checking out. The same goes for public computers like in libraries. It’s not advisable to ever transmit personal data when you’re in a public connection environment, especially on non-secure wireless.

Recurring Bills/Subscriptions
Instead of using automatic billing, ask to be billed on a one-time bill by bill basis instead. When you use your credit card for purchases that involve weekly, monthly or annual billings, you can encounter the headache of over-billings, continued billing once a subscription has ended, etc. Some less-than honest merchants will use automatic billing in hopes you’ll forget and won’t check your credit card statement.

Purchases on Smart Phones
Purchases on smart phones can also be less than secure. If your smart phone connects to a public wi-fi signal, you’re going to be much less secure. Someone else can potentially see the transaction, or malware can be placed on your device that can potentially transmit your personal information.

Unsolicited E-Mail Offers
Unless you’ve signed up for solicitations from particular companies, be wary. Check the URL in the e-mail. If it looks suspect, don’t click on it. You can always contact the company through their official website to confirm the legitimacy of the offer.

Strange and Foreign Domain Extensions
If you’re going to be shopping online, it’s best to stay with sites that use a .com extension. And be sure they have a secure checkout. With extensions for countries outside the U.S. — like .ru for Russia — use caution and make sure the company you’re purchasing from is actually located in the country depicted in the domain extension.

Suspect Swipe Terminals
If there’s something that looks suspicious at an ATM or a gas pump credit card swipe terminal — like a separate stand-alone device for you to swipe your card through — or something looks like it’s been added onto the terminal, think twice about using it. More often than not, those types of add-ons are put there by criminals so they can steal your credit card information.

For more information you  can use see:

6 Costs You Should Always Negotiate

 Myths About Your Credit Score

Be sure to come back and post your comments, we appreciate your feedback. If you are interested in ways to saving money, check out http://waystosavingmoney.net/

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