Scammers taking advantage of healthcare law confusion - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Scammers taking advantage of healthcare law confusion

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According to a recent Pew poll, roughly 36 percent of Americans say they don't understand what the Affordable Care Act means for them.

With open enrollment in federal healthcare exchanges beginning next week, scammers are already taking advantage of the confusion associated with the nationwide mandate.

Telephone scams are nothing new in South Carolina, but with sweeping healthcare reform affecting virtually everyone in the country, scammers are following the headlines and taking advantage of what you don't know.

The state Department of Consumer Affairs says they're seeing an increase in healthcare scams across South Carolina.

The goal of fraudsters is to separate you from your sensitive personal information. In one such scam, scammers represent themselves as Medicare representatives who need your Social Security number so they can issue you a new Medicare card.

Other scammers may try and coerce you to sign up for "Obamacare," or offer to send you a new medical alert device. Fraud experts warn, if you receive a cold call asking you to divulge any sensitive information regarding healthcare, someone is likely trying to scam you.

"Scammers use scare tactics to try and get you to do something," said Juliana Harris, Consumer Affairs official. "So it could even be that, 'Oh we're offering this great deal. If you don't sign up now, you could pay double,' or 'If you don't sign up now, you're going to jail, because it's illegal not to have health insurance.'"

Fraud experts say they expect to see more of these scams in the coming months as people start to feel the pressure to purchase healthcare before the Jan. 1, 2014 deadline. To report suspicious calls or emails, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-922 1594.

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