Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) is alerting 13th District residents to be on guard for possible scams and fraudulent websites meant to take advantage of people seeking to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
“There is a great deal of confusion among people when it comes to Obamacare, and there are a lot of scam artists out there who are already trying to prey on unsuspecting folks caught up in that confusion,” Thornberry said. “The problems occurring with the launch of the healthcare act's website have greatly increased the risk of potential identity and information theft.”
The official Affordable Care Act website and its data hub, which stores sensitive user information like Social Security numbers and birthdates, have been panned by many technology and digital security experts as being vulnerable to malicious attacks by hackers. Even those not using the website are still at risk due to what is called “target spear phishing attacks” where scam artists send out emails pretending to be legitimate organizations in an effort to get people to follow nefarious web links or unknowingly submit personal information.
“Everyone should always be extra vigilant but more so right now with the information they share over the Internet, especially via email. Criminals who could be thousands of miles away in foreign countries can be just as much of a threat to your security over the Internet,” said Thornberry. He emphasized that “people need to look at any email they receive or website they are told to go to in regards to signing up for Obamacare with a great deal of skepticism. Double check the sources and the web addresses before clicking on anything and especially before submitting personal information.”
Security experts urge people to beware of:
- Anyone contacting you by phone, email, or text offering to help sign you up for insurance in exchange for a fee. Never agree to provide anyone that offers such a service in exchange for money or your personal information (e.g. bank account numbers, Social Security ID, credit card accounts);
- Government imposters. Government agencies may send information about the insurance exchanges to you via mail, but they will not call or email you requesting money or credit card numbers;
- Emails or phone calls from people using high-pressure tactics that try to scare or threaten you to submit sensitive information in order to avoid a fine or jail time;
- Bogus claims that you need an Obamacare card to receive insurance coverage;
- The only official website to sign up for the Affordable Care Act exchanges is www.healthcare.gov. Always make sure to type out the website name and never blindly follow any link that says it will take you to the official website. People should avoid any other site claiming to be able to sign them up for the insurance exchanges.
Anyone receiving a telephone call or email seeking money or sensitive personal information should refuse the demand and report the threat to the Congressman’s office.