By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
BBB: Open enrollment time means openings for scammers
gbtribune news logo anvil app

Con artists do it every year at this time. As Americans go through their health insurance open enrollment period, scammers are trying to sneak into the middle of our decision making. Their goal, as usual, is to steal your personal information so they can assume your identity and/or get at some of the benefits you are entitled to receive. Open enrollment for Medicare runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Affordable Care Act open enrollment is a smaller window: Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

Your Better Business Bureau hopes that through education regarding scammers’ methods, you can keep them out of your health care decision and away from your finances.


How they do it

A favored method of crooks is to call (often an automated call) claiming to be a “health care benefits advocate.” Knowing that some aspects of Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are complicated enough to be intimidating, they are counting on your need for help as you make your insurance decision. The caller may claim to be able to enroll you in a cheaper program than your current one. Once they have your interest, they begin the process of “reeling you in” by requesting that you provide a bit of personal information such as your Medicare ID number. With that information they can begin their theft of your identity.

Other scammers are more interested in trying to frighten you by claiming your Medicare is about to be discontinued unless you re-enroll immediately. Again, giving this fake “Medicare advisor” your personal information is like opening your bank account to them.

Yet another technique of scammers is to call you and offer “free” back or knee braces. This is an old Medicare fraud method that’s been around for years and is, apparently, still finding victims.

Stay safe with these tips

Selecting your insurance plan is sometimes a challenge. The choices you make can have costly repercussions and need to be made carefully. Keep scammers out of the process by following watching for these warning signs:

• Unsolicited phone calls, texts or emails. Medicare and ACA representatives don’t call unless you are already enrolled.

• Threats. Representatives never make threats of any sort to enrollees or potential enrollees.

• Promotional gifts. Never fall for the offer of a sign-up gift of any sort, including free health screenings. When they request your Medicare ID number or other such information, hang up.

• They want your insurance number. Never give it out to someone you do not know. This is especially true regarding your Social Security number and bank account numbers.

If you do need information about your Medicare plan or your ACA plan, visit their official websites at or You can also find more information regarding scammers by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website Should a caller give you the name of a company they claim to represent, make no decision over the phone. Instead, look up the company at

Scammers know health care decisions may be intimidating to you and are counting on your need for help. Thwart them by referring to the above tips and visiting official websites instead. For answers to other questions, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417 or