Federal officials warning consumers about scams tied to Affordable Care Act

FTC says scammers looking to take advantage of confusion about country's health care marketplace

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - One week into the new health care marketplace, federal officials are warning consumers about scams tied to the Affordable Care Act.

From bogus emails that look legit to phone calls from people promising to help you sign up for health insurance, the Federal Trade Commission says scammers are looking to take advantage of confusion about the country's new health care marketplace.

Internet security expert Bob Sullivan said be on the lookout for unsolicited emails dressed up to look legitimate. They'll entice you to click on links that are merely phishing schemes.

"This might be the opportunity of the decade for the phisher," Sullivan said.

Wade Baker with the Verizon Risk Team has additional advice when faced with unsolicited emails.

"We need to be suspicious of it. If it's unsolicited, comes from someone you don't know, that should be an automatic flag," Baker explained. "If it's poorly written, that's another flag."

You have until April to enroll in a plan if you don't have insurance. So there's no need to rush. Local 2 Consumer Expert Amy Davis recommends you research your options.

Barbara McGinty with the Houston Better Business Bureau said don't let anyone claiming to be a health care "navigator" push you into making a decision.

"That is why they are called navigators, to navigate and answer questions, not to direct you to a plan and not to direct you to a specific thing. So when someone is claiming they are a navigator, and they are pushing you one direction then that would certainly raise a red flag to me," McGinty said.

If you're shopping for a plan, McGinty says beware of another red flag -- the term "discount plan."

Discount plans are not the same as insurance and won't give you comprehensive coverage in many cases.

Keep in mind, the government is not calling, sending emails or knocking on people's doors to sign them up for health insurance. The one website you need to know is healthcare.gov. That's the official site for open enrollment.

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