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There will always be scammers
October 3, 2013 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Forbes provides a list of 5 major scams that have popped out of the woodwork with the beginning of deployment of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). Be on the lookout!

1. There's no such thing as an Obamacare card.
2. Government employees are not calling people to ask them for their SS numbers to confirm elegibility.
3. Not everyone who claims to be an Obamacare "Navigator" actually is one
4. Not every Obamacare sign-up website is genuine.
5. If you are on Medicare you don't need to sign up for Obamacare.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (28 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you are on Medicare you don't need to sign up for Obamacare.

If someone talks about "Obamacare" as if it's a health insurance plan that you sign up for, that's a scam. This applies to unsolicited phone calls and statements by the Republicans in Congress equally.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2013 [29 favorites]


Not that Forbes has any axes to grind. FEAR! FEAR! SUSPICION!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:51 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


6. The Obamacare National Lottery chose you as a winner, and they have $50,000,000 in health care vouchers for you as soon as you come up with a nominal processing fee.
posted by ubiquity at 9:15 AM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


See also
posted by hank at 9:18 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to think that this is actually pretty helpful to non-tech-literate folks. I'm glad it's not just an angry list of "welfare-queen cheats" on the horizon.

ACA folks will probably be dealing with a lot of this junk soon.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:20 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is kinda sad that a lot of folks still think that there's going to be a single-payer plan. I've run into plenty of folks who think that that's what the roll-out of Obamacare means. And some of them are going to think that they have to sign up and get a card. And those angry people who hate the idea of socialized health care are going to be taken by conmen because they weren't paying attention to something really important. Honestly. It makes me sad.

And a little giggly.
But it's a cold kinda giggly.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:27 AM on October 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


seriously need isit@thisislegit.gov people can email images of scams to ... but most are in person so :(
posted by tilde at 9:28 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


OH in the office just now: "You know what they're doing in Tennessee to get people to sign up for Obamacare? They're giving out free Obama cell phones. Unlimited texts and everything."

I was just agog. I could only mutter to myself, That's not even wrong.
posted by Etrigan at 9:40 AM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dude, the healthcare industry is a harsh realm on a good day. The laws are defined such that the billing agencies can't tell you who they're billing for until you give them your personal information.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:43 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Greetings, Friend. My name is Barack Obama and I am a Nigerian Prince. I have a wonderful health care plan for you, all you need to do to sign up is send a copy of your bank account information, along with proof of identity to healthcare.gov and we will sign you up for health care. We will automatically deduct a low low charge per month for access to the top quality health care in the world. It is important that we do this soon, so urgently send your information, please. God Bless.

------
A 419 scam-writer, I clearly cannot be.
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have to think that this is actually pretty helpful to non-tech-literate folks.

Honestly? It's helpful to them as well. One of the things the company I work for does is provide registered agent service, which generally means we just make sure service of process gets from point A to point B, but it involves forwarding a lot of random mail from (mostly) state agencies as well.

The scams are good. Really good. Not all of them, of course, but the ones that are well-crafted are very well done. It'll be things like bills coming from the Secretary of State indicating that you're overdue on some obscure filing or another, and it'll be dated as of maybe the day before the postmark so you're all "oh fuck I'm late." And they look like any other state document except they'll ask you to make out a check to something like "Florida State Document Processing Inc." which is a private (scammy) company rather than Florida itself. And, obviously, the fee and the filing are made up and this is just an easy way to get half a grand out of a business owner.

I can usually catch the scams and let the client know it's probably a scam when I forward the letter (I have to forward it, scam or not) but I can't imagine Frank of Frank's HVAC Repair Services LLC or whatever is as vigilant as I am, or has anyone particularly trained in telling scams from not-scams. It's not like the real government agencies don't just send unannounced bills in the mail, with nary a trace of contact information to figure out what the hell the bill is for.

So, anyway, regardless of how smart or quick or clever you are, the scammers are better than you, because scamming you pays their rent and feeds their family. Being contemptuous of a scammer (or, worse, the scammed) is bad mojo if I've ever seen any.

(I'm not accusing you of anything, es_de_bah, it was just a good jumping-off point for what I wanted to say.)
posted by griphus at 9:50 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Etrigan - perhaps asking where they got that information from? All innocent-like, asking if they have a link to send you so you can "see for yourself".

And then they won't find it and you can say, "hmmm. I'm not so sure that may be so, then."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greetings, Friend. My name is Barack Obama and I am a Nigerian Prince.

I demand to see your long-form Nigerian birth certificate before I sign up.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:51 AM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Etrigan - perhaps asking where they got that information from? All innocent-like, asking if they have a link to send you so you can "see for yourself".

And then they won't find it and you can say, "hmmm. I'm not so sure that may be so, then."


I mentioned a few minutes ago in another thread that I have developed a keen sense of when, where and to whom I can talk politics in my military agency workplace. That sense was pulsing Do Not Engage on high volume.
posted by Etrigan at 9:58 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


thank you.

seriously. thank you for posting this. I do appreciate it.

I am not normally a forbes reader, but this is good info.
posted by lampshade at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2013


thanks, griphus
posted by es_de_bah at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2013


What's interesting is that until this very post, it had never even occurred to me that people actually think that "Obamacare" is a single-payer government plan. I should realize that many people don't pay attention (at best) or are ill-informed (at worst).
posted by symbioid at 10:04 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forbes provides

These days "Forbes" is mostly just a blogging platform. Here's where you sign up. It's like saying "WordPress provides" or "Blogspot provides."
posted by jedicus at 10:08 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The national ACA call-in center's phone number is 1-800-318-2596.

1-800-3(F) 1 8(U) 2(C) 5(K) 9(Y) 6(O)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:18 AM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


OH in the office just now: "You know what they're doing in Tennessee to get people to sign up for Obamacare? They're giving out free Obama cell phones. Unlimited texts and everything."

Ah, a Facebook friend has provided the answer: probably conflation of the LifeLine program, which was bounced around as "Obama phones" in the first term.

Still not going to engage.
posted by Etrigan at 10:29 AM on October 3, 2013


We're a nation of hustlers and con men, of sharps and rubes, and we deliberately structure our society that way, because we're always believing we're one of the sharps grifting the rubes.
posted by klangklangston at 10:46 AM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm forwarding this to my family right now. Thanks!
posted by Pronoiac at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2013


Translation: LOOK LOOK It's not working! SEE we told you so!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:00 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "ObamaPhone" thing appears to be true, but it's done by a Tennessee health co-op to encourage patients to sign up, and there's various requirements. It's not a federal benefit.
posted by dragoon at 3:50 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


4. Not every Obamacare sign-up website is genuine. [My variation]

I tried one of the websites to see what was on offer. The information requested was what you would normally expect, but they asked if I had any preexisting conditions. From healthcare.gov: "Starting in 2014, being sick won't keep you from getting health coverage. An insurance company can't turn you down or charge you more because of your condition." So why do they want to know? I am approaching my fifth decade and I smoke and I live in a State notorious for ill-health. I entered all of my information, clicked to get a bid and got - nothing. The website would not proceed.

It would not surprise me in the least to find out that some of the websites are in existence to use the application process to poach the more attractive applicants and filter out less desireable applicants. In fact I'll bet on it.
posted by vapidave at 4:46 PM on October 3, 2013


Government-funded cell phones for the poor are real, though the FCC's Lifeline phone program has been around since 1984, and the first cell phones were issued in 2008 under Bush 43. (For posterity, here's the FCC page that used to explain the program and will again as soon as Congress gets its act together.) Unfortunately, there is no texting on the phones. And yes, there are tons of Lifeline scams trying to bilk the poor out of money instead of giving them the phone access they're entitled to.
posted by decathecting at 8:46 PM on October 3, 2013


Gee, I wonder why there's so much confusion about what the ACA really is. It's almost as if there's a whole political wing who's trying to muddle things...
posted by DreamerFi at 1:40 AM on October 4, 2013


Not that Forbes has any axes to grind. FEAR! FEAR! SUSPICION!

As noted, Forbes Online (which isn't the magazine, exactly) is a slightly open blogging platform a la HuffPo. It does skew a bit rightie, but then there are folks like Rick Ungar who are unabashed lefties (he now goes by "The Token Lefty", in fact, and seems to have graduated to staff). This column happens to be by Rick Eisenberg, and is actually a sidebar to the PBS affiliated project Next Avenue. The scams are real, and timely, and his 50+ audience is known to be more vulnerable to such cons. This is not FUD. And yes, there is FUD on the sight, but mostly from characters like Koch-funded think-tank guy Avik Roy.

It's frustrating that two or more years after the site went to this format we still have these discussions.
posted by dhartung at 2:28 AM on October 4, 2013


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