Criminals are always looking for new twists to get consumers to give up their identifying information, and now some seem to have settled on one that relates to the Affordable Care Act.
Many consumers across the country may be receiving calls from identity thieves who are posing as government officials purporting themselves to be trying to help with setting up the intended victim’s government health insurance data, according to a warning from Consumer Reports. The crooks who call in this way typically ask for a wealth of personal data, including a person’s name, home address, phone number, and even bank account data. The Federal Trade Commission is trying to crack down on these scams, which become common whenever there’s a major change for the federal government that is in the news a lot.
People who fall for the criminals’ ruse and divulge some or all of their personal information may be affected in a number of ways, depending on what data they turn over, the report said. Some might find that the bank or credit card accounts for which they revealed information see significant fraudulent transactions in a short period of time, and those who turn over other data including Social Security numbers could end up having new accounts opened in their names but without their knowledge, which can do significant credit damage in general.
In general, the best way for consumers to avoid falling victim to such a scam is to simply hang up when someone calls asking them to reveal their personal or financial information, regardless of who the person on the other end claims to be, the report said. No legitimate organization will ever cold-call a person for whom they need sensitive data and simply ask for it. Those who receive such calls should contact local authorities as well as the FTC to alert them to the issue.
Because identity theft is such a pervasive problem nationwide, it may be wise for consumers to keep close tabs on their financial documents and make sure there are no charges and transactions, or accounts being opened in their names, that they don’t recognize. If there are, it might be a sign that they’ve been victimized, and they should contact the institution that issued the document as soon as possible.