The Open Enrollment Period for health insurance is here: November 1 – January 15
Enroll in a new health plan or reevaluate your current coverage to see if it’s still a good fit for you. You can make the following changes during this period:
- Enroll in a health insurance plan for the first time
- Change health insurance plans
- Change your current plan’s dependents
Still have questions? Learn more about the health insurance Open Enrollment Period.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a safe and reliable place to purchase health insurance. However, it is not uncommon to encounter scammers taking advantage of people needing health insurance by posing as Marketplace officials. Using the trustworthiness of the Marketplace as a cover, they may try to steal your personal information or get you to pay them money directly.
Worried about scams? Use this guide to learn how to protect yourself from Marketplace fraud.
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Signs of Health Insurance Marketplace Fraud
Knowing you’re being scammed can be tricky at first. If someone claiming to be from the Health Insurance Marketplace reaches out to you, consider these signs of fraud before giving them any information.
- Numbers that are not official: The official phone numbers of the Marketplace are 1-855-997-1890 or 844-477-7500. You may also see your Caller ID show “Health Insurance MP” or “InsMarketplace.” Calls from other numbers are not from the Marketplace. That said, scammers can sometimes spoof the Marketplace’s numbers, so screening calls is not a foolproof method of avoiding fraud.
- Callers that threaten you: Sometimes, scammers threaten you by saying you must pay them to keep your coverage. They might even threaten legal action if you do not sign up for a plan. Marketplace officials, state employees, or any other person working for a legitimate organization do not use threats to get you to enroll.
- Callers that ask for credit card information or other payments: Many fraudsters ask for your credit card information so you can make a payment to keep coverage. They may also ask for prepaid debit cards, cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. This is not something Marketplace officials do.
- Callers that ask for your Social Security number: Marketplace officials do not ask for your Social Security number over the phone. You need to enter it on your health insurance application, but you do not need to provide it to anyone who calls you.
- Scam websites: Some scammers create entire fake websites to lure in unsuspecting individuals. They may copy the layout and graphics from official sites, making it appear to be a legitimate webpage at first glance. Government websites end in .gov, so sites on other domains are likely illegitimate.
- Emails from sketchy senders: If you get an email from an address that does not end in .gov, chances are it’s fake.
How to Protect Your Financial and Medical Information
Keeping your financial and medical information safe is imperative. If scammers get hold of it, they could use it to steal your money. A more complicated scheme is medical identity theft, where scammers pose as you to get access to drugs, buy medical devices, or even submit claims to your insurance company under your name.
An easy way to prevent this is never to give any caller your financial or personal health information. Marketplace officials do not ask for this over the phone, just in your health insurance application. The representative may ask you to upload additional documents if you did not provide enough information in your application. This should be done in your Marketplace account and nowhere else.
It also helps to know how Marketplace representatives act when on a call. Their protocol is to say they’re calling from the Marketplace and provide a first name and agent ID number. If a call does not start this way, it’s likely a scammer, and you should hang up.
Sometimes, you may get a call from a trained assistant. These professionals can walk you through your healthcare options, making the process less daunting. Like Marketplace representatives, they do not ask for your credit card number. They also ask for your consent before discussing or accessing your personal information.
If you’re ever on a call and feel uncertain, you can simply hang up and call the official Marketplace number at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to ask if the call was legit.
How to Protect Your Marketplace Account
Even if you do not give out your financial and medical information to callers, they might still be able to access it if they hack your Marketplace account. Luckily, two-factor authentication is a good way to secure your account.
Two-factor authentication requires you to log in with a username and password and provide a unique access code sent to you in an email, text message, or phone call. That way, even if someone does steal your password, they cannot access your account.
With this method, you sign in normally. Then, you can choose how you want to receive the code. Official messages and calls come from the number 1-888-486-3063, and emails come from firstname.lastname@example.org. You can only log in after you enter this code on the website.
What to Do if You Encounter Fraud
If you’ve been contacted by someone asking for your credit card information or threatening legal action if you do not select a plan, then it’s a good idea to report this to the authorities. By doing so, you can help identify these scammers so they do not hurt anyone else.
The first step is to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. The online form asks you to explain what happened and provide as much information as possible about the interaction. Reports are not reviewed individually but can contribute to overall investigations into healthcare scammers.
Next, you may want to call your local police department. This is especially important if you give the scammer any of your personal information. The police may be able to use your information to track down the caller or protect other citizens in your community.
Finally, you can contact the Marketplace Call Center. Explain to the representative what happened. Then, if they think your account has been compromised, they can take steps to protect your information and help you stay safe.
There’s no shame in being tricked by Marketplace scammers. They’re sneaky, and they can fool even savvy individuals. But with these fraud protection tips in mind, you can keep yourself safe.