The Affordable Care Act has been in the news a lot lately–website failures, blunders, missed deadlines, just to name a few–but now a new trend is popping up with ObamaCare. Now there is an increased risk of identity theft to add to the list of issues with the new healthcare law. Navigators, the professionals who are supposed to help guide consumers into the right affordable healthcare plan, are proving to be the biggest identity theft threat of all.
ObamaCare identity theft is a real concern, especially when you consider the lack of protective measures put in place. According to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo criminal background checks. Although a handful of states do require background checks, she acknowledged that it is possible for convicted felons to be navigators and gather consumers’ sensitive personal information. When you also consider that navigators only have to complete 20 to 30 hours of training–even though they’re essentially doing the same job as certified health insurance agents–there are obviously many reasons to worry.
But navigators aren’t the only risk here. The government databases used for ObamaCare store consumers’ personal, financial, and medical information–data that is shared with seven separate agencies including the IRS, Social Security Administration, and Department of Justice. These databases alone increase the likelihood of ObamaCare identity theft. With open enrollment through the health insurance exchanges running through March 2014, you will want to take the proper precautions to avoid becoming another victim.
How to Protect Yourself from ObamaCare Identity Theft
As a consumer you have to be proactive to protect your identity. The elderly, disabled, and small business owners are at higher risk than other consumers for identity theft through ObamaCare, but you are at risk even if you don’t fall into these groups. Perform your due diligence and look out for the following:
• Never give out your personal information to anyone calling and representing themselves as government officials for ObamaCare. The government will never ask for your personal information–including your bank account or credit card information–to obtain insurance. You won’t be contacted via phone, email, text, or even at your door for anything related to the new healthcare law, so anyone telling you otherwise is probably participating in an ObamaCare identity theft scam. Legitimate navigators will not make unsolicited contact with you or ask you to pay a fee for their services.
• Watch out for fake ObamaCare or Medicare identification card scams. Identity thieves have been known to contact consumers claiming that they must have an ObamaCare identification card, but there are no such cards involved with the new healthcare law. Similarly, scammers are telling consumers that they need to verify their personal information to continue receiving their Medicare benefits. Again, not true.
• Avoid fraudulent or “dummy” websites. Creating websites that appear to be official is another favorite tactic of scammers. You can easily avoid this type of ObamaCare identity theft by only going to http://www.healthcare.gov, the official government healthcare site. From there you can trust links directing you to the official websites operated by individual state governments.
Whatever you do, never provide your personal information–including Social Security number, date of birth, and financial account numbers–to setup your new healthcare plan. Remember that the government already has your personal information, so no government representatives will ever ask you to provide it. If you are uncomfortable using the healthcare.gov website to sign-up, you can also call 1.800.318.2596 for personal assistance completing the application process.