Confusion over the October launch of a major part of ObamaCare is turning the health care overhaul into a feeding frenzy for scammers scheming for ways to swindle unsuspecting Americans.
Consumer watchdog and advocacy groups like Fraud.org, the Federal Trade Commission’s division of marketing practices and the AARP are just the latest to issue warnings to their members about spikes in scams tied to the October roll-out.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare, was passed in 2010, but many of its major provisions have not yet taken effect. On Oct. 1, new health plans will be offered through a government-run marketplace or health care “exchange.” There are still many details left to be ironed out, which scammers are banking on.
The goal for fraudsters is to steal medical identities – which includes a person’s address, Social Security number, Medicare number and medical history.
Having access to this information allows thieves to obtain medical care, buy prescription drugs, fake intake forms, order supplies and submit fraudulent insurance claims to the government, Sam Imandoust, a legal analyst at the Identity Theft Resource Center, told FoxNews.com.
Social Security numbers go for about $1 on the black market, but medical records are much more lucrative for con artists and fetch up to $50 a pop.
Imandoust said those typically targeted include “the elderly and those on a lower socioeconomic scale or going through tough times.”
The victims of medical identity theft are likely to have their credit crushed, and be out a lot of money and time trying to reverse the damage.
One way scammers could capitalize on the lack of clarity tied to ObamaCare involves the websites themselves. The government will go live with the exchanges via its website (www.healthcare.gov) in October. But because 17 states have opted out of the federal program, they will have to offer up their own. That means, 17 unique URLs will be exposed to the threat of security breaches and a world wide web of rip-off artists trying to game the system.
“That will leave a ripe opportunity for imposters,” Imandoust said. “Each state needs to be very proactive about clamping down on security threats.”
Read more: FOX NEWS