The first step in protecting against phone scams is understanding how they work. That’s why in this series, we’re breaking down some of the newest and most popular phone scams circulating among businesses and consumers.

The Scam

It’s a chilly January day. You’ve been busy hitting the ground running on your New Years resolutions, getting back into the daily grind at work, or stocking your pantry for impending snow storms. One day in the midsts of all the hustle and bustle, you receive this call:

“You may already know effective January 1st of this year, federal law mandates that all Americans have health insurance. If you missed open enrollment, you can still avoid tax penalties and get covered during the special enrollment period, often at little or no cost to you.”phone-scam-breakdown

Oh no! Open enrollment has ended and you haven’t signed up for health insurance. You don’t want to be penalized on your taxes so you quickly press one for more information. Soon after you have selected the healthcare plan right for you, paid with your credit card, and avoided all penalties… or so you thought.

What Really Happened

Scammers used a fake robocall to gain your personal information including social security number, your bank account, and your address. With this information, these fraudsters racked up purchases on your credit card and opened new accounts.  Because the insurance you thought they offered you was made up, you also are penalized for being uninsured come tax time. Attackers have successfully stolen your identity using the following tactics.

  • Robocalling – Scammers use robocalls to attack a multitude of people quickly while also being able to conceal their identity and location
  • Confusion – You’ve heard something about Obamacare and tax deadlines, but you haven’t paid much attention to the details. Fraudsters take advantage of your confusion.
  • Cross-channel Fraud – Fraudsters use many different channels to extort sensitive information. In the case of the Healthcare Scam, fraudsters use the phone channel to collect personal information, and use that information in other channels, like online or in the call center.

Healthcare Scam Examples

5 Obamacare Scams and How to Avoid Them – In addition to offering healthcare, scammers will also tell victims they can get lowered insurance rates, pretend to be government agents, or even offer nonexistent “Obamacare cards”.

Expert Warns about Healthcare Scammers – Brownsville, TX – fraudulent robocallers warn residents about $695 penalty for not enrolling in heathcare.

State Warns of Multiple Scams and Fraudulent Practices in Oregon – Phone scammers are preying upon the financial troubles of Moda Health, calling and intimidating those using Moda as their primary insurance carrier.


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