Policy: Technology

Obamacare exchanges just opened, and already fake websites, scammers are ripping people off

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Beltway Confidential,Obamacare,Health Care,Ashe Schow,Technology,Health Care Exchanges

Obamacare's health exchanges opened to a world of glitches Tuesday, but even that's not as bad as the scammers looking to steal individuals' personal information by posing as exchange sign-up websites, according to UPI.

Christopher Budd, threat communications manager at Trend Micro, an internet security company, said that a lack of a single website to sign up for the exchanges opens Americans up to scams.

“The root problem is that the health insurance exchange isn’t made up of a single, authoritative site where people can go and register for coverage,” Budd said.

“In addition to the federal site, people can apply for coverage at sites run by individual states. Then, within each state, there can also be legitimate third-party sites that provide assistance and even broker coverage.”

Forbes magazine listed five Obamacare scams, including websites that seem legitimate but aren't. A website called “Pennsylvania Health Exchange” looked to be official, but turned out to be run by a private insurance broker and was shut down.

The best way to avoid identity thieves and other fraudsters is to “not use a search engine as your starting point when looking for coverage,” Budd wrote.

Budd said to start with the official government website or state government websites and branch out from there.

But one still has to be careful, as even state and legitimate third-party sites don’t require site verification, which could make it difficult to determine whether a site is a scam or not.

Other scams, besides those involved with signing up for the exchanges on line, revolve around scammers pretending to be official Obamacare navigators to get personal information to steal identities. Or they could be trying to sell fake health insurance.

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