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BBB warns of health insurance phone scam

Posted at 9:26 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 22:39:32-04

LEE COUNTY, FLA — Open enrollment for health insurance is back open temporarily and the Better Business Bureau of West Florida says with that change comes a new scam.

"Scammers now see this as an opportunity to make those health care calls that we hear coming in," said Bryan Olgesby with the Better Business Bureau of West Florida.

He adds that those scammers are counting on the fact that you may be searching for a new policy and will pick up when they call.

"Their caller id could be a similar number to the Healthcare.Gov website or they can send you fake emails even text messages," said Olgesby.

You'll know it's a scam if they ask for personal information or payment. Or if they seem desperate to keep you on the phone or won't stop calling you.

"Their goal is to catch you in a moment where you're caught off guard and they can perpetuate their scam to you," he said.

Olgesby says the best line of defense is to not answer the phone if you don't know the number but if you do answer there are tools to protect yourself.

"This is the best time to script yourself prepared, if you accidentally answer the call, you know how to respond to those people," he said.

So what kind of "script" does Olgesby recommend?

"Asking who it is. Don't give up personal information. If it's an automated system asking you to press "0" don't push any of those numbers," he said, "You don't want to verify that you're a live human answering the phone."

And if you've fallen for that trap in the past, don't worry, you're not alone.

"Scammers operate just like legitimate sales or telemarketers so they have a list that calling these millions of numbers," he said.

Stopping the calls can be tricky because the people behind those calls are technically using legal technology.

But he says you can try to block the number or call your carrier.

"So reach out to your cellphone provider to see if they provide that service for you," he said.

And above all else, if you recognize a scam he asks that you report it.

You can report them through the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker or through the Federal Trade Commission.