Scammers continue to take advantage of the fact that a majority of Americans remain misinformed about healthcare reform, and because of the government shutdown, fraud is harder to monitor, CBS News reported.
Two weeks before the launch of HealthCare.gov, Attorney General Eric Holder met with the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other senior officials to prepare for likely attempts at fraud and organize a preemptive defense. One of the most common scams involves a phone call from someone claiming to be a government employee asking for an individual's Social Security number, bank account number or other personal information, ostensibly to sign the person up for a new Medicare card, according to Katherine Hutt of the Better Business Bureau.
Con artists have used the basic formula for years, Hutt told CBS News. "What we see this time is that they're making the same pitch, but saying 'Obamacare card' and asking for the same information," she said. Although Hutt said scams have been reported, no one has yet reported losing any money to them. This isn't unusual, Hutt said, as scammers often save information to sell later. "It could be months down the line before you see that activity on your account," she said.
The government shutdown has complicated fraud prevention efforts. People who call the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network, which was set up to forward healthcare-related fraud complaints to law enforcement, will receive an automated message until funding is restored. The FTC's site went offline on day one of the shutdown and is now back up, but running at minimum capacity, according to the article. Although most Department of Justice staffers are still reporting to work, the article stated, calling DOJ representatives will likely to lead to more automated messages.
To learn more:
- here's the CBS News article