MANHATTAN, Kan. – A Kansas State University professor is warning consumers that fraudsters are now using the Internet to target Americans who may be confused about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Roberta Riportella, the Kansas Health Foundation professor of community health at K-State, said there are recent reports that fake, confusing websites pretending to offer new health care benefits are trying to trick people into giving personal information.
“There is no legitimate reason for anyone to contact you before October 1 to sell you health insurance coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act,” said Riportella, who is providing training to help Kansas extension agents answer residents’ questions.
The most reliable source of information regarding the new law and how to enroll in the marketplace, she said, is at www.healthcare.gov.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Kiss, a K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist, said consumers should report suspected fraud to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Additional tips to protect yourself include:
• Know who you are dealing with. Telemarketers must tell you it is a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they are selling before they make their pitch. Hang up if you do not hear this information.
• Protect your personal information. Do not share your bank account, credit card, or Social Security numbers in response to a phone call, email message, text message, or an ad.
• Do not send cash. If you send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer and later discover the charge was fraudulent, the money will be gone and you may lose your right to dispute the transaction.
• Resist pressure to make an immediate decision. Ask to have all information in writing before you agree to buy. If it is an unsolicited offer, research it with the state attorney general’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, or someone you trust.
Kiss noted that consumers can call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with questions about the insurance marketplace.
Riportella maintains a blog to help people educate themselves about the Affordable Care Act. It’s at https://blogs.ksre.ksu.edu/issuesinhealthreform/.
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.