Watch out for Obamacare scams

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LANSING— Sen. John Proos on Wednesday warned Southwest Michigan residents to be on the lookout for scam artists and identity thieves who are trying to take advantage of customer confusion about the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

“The Obamacare healthcare system is an extremely complex federal government program, which has led to confusion about the law by consumers, especially seniors, and is now making them vulnerable to brazen con artists,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I encourage all residents to safeguard their personal and financial information in order to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft or one of these many new Obamacare scams.”

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is advising residents to verify all health plans and insurance licenses by calling DIFS toll-free at 1-877-999-6442 or visiting the DIFS website at www.michigan.gov/difs.

“There are some simple tips to avoid being scammed, starting with never giving out personal information or account numbers to unsolicited callers, e-mailers or door-knockers,” Proos said. “Official agencies and organizations will already have your personal information. If asked for that information, please write down the phone number, hang up and then report it to the state attorney general’s office. This can help stop you and others from being victimized.”

Residents may report a suspected scam to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-765-8388 or by visiting their website at www.michigan.gov/ag. There you can click on Complaints to learn how to file a complaint online or by U.S. mail.

“The Area Agency on Aging has highly trained experts available to help people sort through their Medicare or Medicaid options,” said Christine Vanlandingham of the Region IV Area Agency on Aging in St. Joseph. “These unbiased counselors are available toll-free on the Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Line at 1-800-803-7174.”

Proos also warned about look-alike websites. In Michigan, the official site to purchase health insurance is through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.

“Be skeptical of offers that seem too good to be true, and do not fall victim to threats,” Proos said. “You will not go to jail for not signing up and you do not need Obamacare cards. These common new scams feed on consumers’ fears and confusion and then offer them a special deal to help them out. Hang up! It’s a scam.”

Any resident who believes they have been a victim of a scam and has experienced any trouble contacting the attorney general’s office are welcome to contact Sen. Proos’ office by phone at (517) 373-6960 or by email at: senjproos@senate.michigan.gov.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”

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