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New Phone Scam Takes Advantage Of Health Care Confusion

Chris Campell
Scammers posing as health care exchange "navigators" are seeking access to sensitive personal data. Meanwhile, state officials are planning an outreach program that involves phone calls to Vermonters.

A new phone scam targeting Vermonters is capitalizing on the confusion around the Affordable Care Act, officials announced today.

Susan Donegan, the commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said in an interview that the scammers call and claim to serve a role much like Vermont’s designated “navigators,” who are tasked with helping Vermonters enroll in a new health insurance plan through the health care exchange.

In reality, the callers are seeking access sensitive to personal data.

“In the course of the conversation [the scammers] have been very convincing to get people to even give over personal information like social security numbers and credit card information,” Donegan said.

Part of the challenge facing Vermonters and the state officials working to protect them from the scam is its similarity to a legitimate state effort that is in the works.

“I do know that as a continued effort for outreach,” Donegan said, “Vermont Health Connect is contemplating a program of reaching out to Vermonters to make calls to them to ask them whether or not they would like to have some more information and to talk about options on the exchange through navigators.”

That program, she said, may come into effect soon.

“There will be legitimate contacts, so it’s more important for consumers to really spend some time figuring out whether this is bogus or this is legit,” Donegan said.

One thing Vermonters can do to make sure a call is legitimate, she said, is to ask for their name and a call back number and then call them back later. Often, she said, scammers can’t be found in a second call, but legitimate navigators will be available.

“And then you can also call the health exchange folks and see whether or not somebody made a call,” she said.

Vermonters who think they’ve been contacted as part of this scam can reach the Department of Financial Regulation’s insurance division at 1-800-964-1784.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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