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Consumer Affairs Office Offers Tips to Avoid ID Theft when buying Health Insurance in the new Marketplace

Woodbury – The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders is warning residents to be wary of scams during the next six months of open enrollment in the nation’s Affordable Care Act.

Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger said that according to the non-profit group Consumer Federation of America fraudsters have been contacting people by phone, mail and even door to door to confuse people into believing they need to sign up for healthcare and pay a fee for it. 

Damminger said, "Government agents are not going to be soliciting individuals to sign up, you must contact them, so anyone seeking you out is probably a red flag and you should be cautious."

"This is a confusing issue to many and scammers seize opportunities like this to get personal information and cash out of vulnerable consumers.  Consumers should never give personal information like banking formation, social security numbers or personal health information over the phone or to someone knocking on your door," stated Damminger. 

For dependable accurate guidelines, consumers looking to purchase health insurance should check the marketplace website at HealthCare.gov during open enrollment from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. 

Freeholder Lyman Barnes, liaison to Gloucester County Consumer Affairs, advised that navigators in the healthcare marketplace and certified application counselors should not ask for money to enroll anyone in a health plan.  "Consumers should be suspicious of anyone asking for a fee in connection with the universal healthcare program.  If you suspect fraud you should report it. "Consumers will be expected to pay their monthly premium only,” said Barnes.

If you suspect fraud call the Health Insurance Marketplace consumer call center at 1-800-318-2596.  TTY users can call 1-855-889-4325.  Contact the Gloucester County Office of Consumer Affairs at 856-384-6855 to alert them of any fraud going on in Gloucester County and it will be posted on the county webpage under Consumer Affairs.

It should be noted that if and when you start looking for help through a Marketplace Assister, they may require certain personal information like a Social Security number to help you enroll.  The Marketplace has trained Assisters in every state to help you at no cost.  You can call 1-800-318-2596 to find local help in your area.