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AG Nessel, DIFS Remind Consumers to Watch Out for Callers Claiming to be from Health Departments
June 16, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reissuing a consumer alert in partnership with the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), warning Michiganders to beware of health care scammers - this time, claiming to be a representative from the "U.S. Department of Health Insurance Plans for Citizens" offering health insurance plans at a discount.
Last month, Nessel warned of scammers claiming to be from state or local health departments as well as vaccination clinics, asking for personal information.
"Bad actors continue to take advantage of this pandemic by any means possible," Nessel said. "Be wary of unsolicited calls claiming to be from state, local, or federal health departments offering discounted health insurance. The latest scam uses President Biden's new healthcare policy in an effort to obtain your personal information like a social security number or Medicare number."
If you receive an unsolicited call from someone saying they represent a local, state or federal agency, be skeptical and trust your instincts.
Hang up if they claim to be from a government agency and:
- offer a new medical plan enrollment by asking for your current insurance information;
- make threats (like that your existing coverage will be cancelled) or rush you to make a decision; or
- attempt to obtain banking information from you.
These types of scams often contact residents through a robocall. Because many reputable companies use telemarketing to conduct business using live-call telemarketers or automated robocalls, criminals will also use this method in an effort to steal personal or banking information.
You can learn more about warning signs through the Attorney General's Consumer Alert on robocalls.
DIFS regulates the insurance and financial services industries in Michigan, and operates the Fraud Investigation Unit (FIU) dedicated to the prevention of criminal and fraudulent activities in the insurance and financial services markets. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud, including suspected health insurance fraud scams, to the FIU on the DIFS website.
"The current Marketplace special enrollment period, which is open until August 15, is an important opportunity for Michiganders to get comprehensive and affordable health insurance, but criminals are ramping up their efforts to confuse and scam consumers," DIFS Director Anita Fox said. "It is critical that Michiganders get the information and health coverage they need while protecting themselves from fraud and identity theft. Always verify the identity and legitimacy of a caller and never give out your personal information over the phone."
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, if you're concerned that a call from a local health department may be a scam, write down the name and number of the person who called you, then reach out to your local health department to confirm the legitimacy of the call.
In terms of COVID-related messages, calls from the state contact tracing team will come from 866-806-3447 or MI COVID HELP.
During a legitimate COVID-19 contact tracing or case investigation, health departments will ask about your health and request that you verify your birthdate or address. They will also ask about and/or encourage vaccination, if you are unvaccinated. They will never ask for social security numbers, payment such as bank or credit card information, or your immigration status.
DIFS can help consumers with health insurance questions and complaints and can provide information about the Health Insurance Marketplace Special Enrollment Period that is now open through August 15. For more information, including a schedule of upcoming virtual health insurance town halls, consumers should visit the DIFS Health Insurance webpage or call 877-999-6442 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Department of Attorney General provides a library of resources for consumers to review anytime.
Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General's website, or by calling 877-765-8388.