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Protect yourself against health insurance scams

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in March 2010, scammers have been creating ways to take advantage of consumers’ uncertainty surrounding the law.

Posing as insurance agents or representatives of the federal government, these scam artists try to sell fraudulent policies or obtain sensitive personal information.

The Commerce Department in partnership with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and other state insurance regulators are reminding consumers about red flags and providing tips on how to avoid being the victim of a scam.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

Scammers making unsolicited calls claiming to have the new “Obamacare” insurance card.

The caller may ask for credit card numbers, bank account information or Social Security numbers.

You are not required to obtain a new Medicare card under the ACA. Also, anyone who is a legitimate representative will not solicit personal and financial information.

Beware of solicitation calls and never give your personal information to an unknown source.

The salesperson says the premium offer is only good for a limited time.

Be skeptical of someone trying to pressure you into buying a policy because the rate is only good for a short time. Enrollment in the exchanges will be open October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014; rates for plans in MNsure will have been approved for the entire enrollment period.

Be wary if you receive an unsolicited phone call or e-mail from someone trying to sell insurance.

The federal government and new state marketplaces like MNsure will not be directly contacting individual consumers to sell them insurance.

The majority of agents, brokers, and navigators are ethical and honest. If you do feel pressured or uneasy, go slow and ask questions.

The best way to protect yourself from insurance fraud is to research the agent and company you’re considering. Call the Commerce Department to confirm the agent/company are licensed to write insurance in Minnesota.

For information about your insurance or if you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud, call the department’s consumer response team at 1-800-657-3602.