Warning: health care fraud schemes could target you - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Warning: health care fraud schemes could target you

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People of West Virginia are urged to watch out for scams that put your identity and savings at risk.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released, Tuesday, an advisory, asking residents to be vigilant against schemes that try to use confusion about the Affordable Care Act to steal your identity.

In a press release, Morrisey said, scammers are posing as officials from Medicare, other government agencies and insurance providers to trick citizens into providing personal information., including financial information.

These scams often involve a phone call or unsolicited email, but they may also involve people going door-to-door in your neighborhood.

"These scammers are telling people they need to provide private information such as credit card numbers, Social Security card numbers and other personal information so they can continue to have health caree coverage," Morrisey said.  "If someone calls you out of the blue seeking personal information or to offer you an Obamacare card, hang up.  This is a scam."

The Federal Trade Commission issued an alert earlier this year about a scam in which a person posing as a government official calls consumers under the guise of sending out a new national medical card.   The caller then asks you to confirm your name, address, phone number and bank account.   The FTC said callers in one scam posed as Medicare employees who were requesting information to ensure the citizen maintained his or her eligibility because "change is on the horizon."   Other scams try to sell poor or nonexistent health care coverage.

"People who get questionable correspondences should never provide personal information over the Internet or phone," Morrisey said.   "If you get a call, ask for the caller's name and number, and if you have access to caller ID, write down that number as well.  Or simply hang up.   With the October deadline for health care exchanges nearing and so many people still confused about all that Obamacare entails, scammers are finding new ways to try to exploit others and drain their bank accounts or steal their identities.   Because of that, we must always be on guard."

If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or a scam, contact the Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division at (304) 588-8986 or toll free at 1-800-368-8808.