From Coast to Coast, Americans Face Warnings of Obamacare Fraud, Scams, and Security Breaches

December 2, 2013

Upton: “The sad reality is fraud and scams will continue to be a growing threat, and Americans must remain vigilant, especially with their personal information.”

Another unwelcome effect of the health law has been an increase in the potential for fraud and scams. Media outlets across the nation are now reporting with growing regularity about fraudsters using the health care law as a means to steal money and people’s identity. The Associated Press recently reported, “The scams come in many forms — emails, phone calls and imposter websites. Some rely on ignorance about what the health care law actually covers, such as one touting that recipients could qualify for cheaper auto insurance. (The ACA does not affect car coverage.) Others are websites designed to look like the government-sanctioned HealthCare.gov.”

News of security breaches has also come to light. According to a recent report by The Oregonian, “Officials at Oregon’s health exchange are reviewing privacy protections after workers there committed three personal data breaches in three days.” One resident said she was “mortified” adding that the incident “confirmed her fear of identity thieves. ‘It's not like they'd get much, but what I have I'd like to keep." In Vermont, officials overseeing the Vermont Health Connect website confirmed there was a security breach in which “one user got improper access to another user’s Social Security number and other data.” Compounding the problem in Vermont, the commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access failed to disclose the security breach when asked during a State House Committee hearing on November 5. The commissioner has since apologized for misleading state lawmakers.

The New York Times recently chronicled instances of fraud that Americans are encountering.The NYT reported, “Madeleine Mirzayans was fooled when a man posing as a government official knocked on her door. Barbara Miller and Maevis Ethan were pitched by telemarketers who claimed to work for Medicaid. And Buford Price was almost caught by another trap: websites that look official but are actually bait set by fly-by-night insurance operators.”

In response to the growing prevalence of fraud and scams, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued a consumer alert “warning residents about a scam involving the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – and attempted identity theft.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) noted, “We are closely monitoring the growing threat of fraud, scams, and security breaches. The still-struggling website speaks to the administration’s incompetence in implementing this law and raises serious concerns moving forward. Fraudsters are clearly taking advantage of the confusion surrounding this law. The sad reality is fraud and scams will continue to be a growing threat, and Americans must remain vigilant, especially with their personal information.”    

Recent headlines underscore cause for concern:

Burlington Free Press: State confirms health website security breach
The Cincinnati Enquirer: Scams accompany rollout of Obamacare – Confusion over health insurance law opens floodgates for fraud
Dayton Daily News: Consumers warned of Obamacare signup scams
Jackson Sun (TN): Better Business Bureau: Scams grow up around Affordable Care Act
Milwaukee BizTimes: Elderly should be wary of health care fraud
The News Courier (AL): Attorney general warns of Obamacare scam
The New York Times: Con men prey on confusion over health care act
The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Health exchange workers committed three data breaches last week
Springfield News-Sun (OH): Obamacare scams target Miami Valley consumers
The Wall Street Journal: Fraudsters are exploiting new health law
Reuters: California takes down 10 fake Obamacare websites
TIME: The latest Obamacare worry: scam websites

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