The BBB says some could be scams.
Baltimore, Md (KM) Open enrollment for health insurance has already come to an end in most parts of the country, or will be coming to an end soon. During that time, a lot of consumers were bombarded with pre-recorded phone calls known as robo calls from various companies trying to sell them health insurance. Jody Thomas with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland says the BBB has received some complaints about these calls. She notes they often don’t ask for money, but personal information instead. “You’re going to have to provide your Social Security number, your date of birth, your full name, your address. When a scammer has all of those keys to your personal identity, that’s worth a lot of money on the black market,” she says.
The BBB says many of these companies making these calls often sell “skinny” policies, which only last for a few months, and don’t provide coverage for pre-existing conditions and the cost of prescription medications.
In some instances, Thomas says, these caller claim they represent Medicare or other legitimate health care plans, and that’s a red flag. “Medicare doesn’t have any representatives that are going to make outreach efforts via the phone or any other forum to get into a plan, or to give you any information about a plan,” she says.
If you have caller ID on your phone, these scammers often practice “spoofing” techniques, where they disguise where the call is originating. “They can it look like they’re calling right from your area. They can make it look like they’re calling from Medicare when really they could be anywhere in the world, ” says Thomas.
The BBB recommends if the phone rings and you see a name or number on your caller ID screen which you do not recognize, don’t answer. Thomas says even if the caller says you can press a number on your phone’s keypad and be placed on the “Do Not Call” list, you may not hear the last from these and other scammers. “A robo call is going to be a recorded message when you pick up the phone,” she says. “So if you go ahead and follow their instructions and press one for the operator or whatever it is, they’re going to know they’ve got somebody on the line and they’re going to know that’s an active phone number. So you don’t want to play along. It’s best not to pick up the call.”
Thomas says if you are interested in purchasing insurance, it’s best to do your own research and contact the insurance carriers yourself. “Keep your wits about you and be careful and don’t’ be in a hurry,” she says. “Fast decisions, rash decisions over the telephone are never a good idea.”
By Kevin McManus