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Scam Alert

Beware of the Latest Health Law Cons

8 ways to protect yourself from crooks trying to cash in on the health insurance exchanges

Man crossing fingers behind his back, ACA Obama Care Scams (Getty Images)

A scammer’s goal is to gain information for identity theft by pitching phony health plan enrollments related to the Affordable Care Act. — Getty Images

En español |With the coming rollout of a major aspect of the Affordable Care Act, the time is ripe for another onslaught of scammers trying to grab your money, personal information and medical records.

Ever since the ACA — better known as Obamacare — was passed by Congress in 2010, there have been periodic waves of cons tied to health reform. These include the sale of bogus insurance policies, and phone calls demanding sensitive personal information ("Could you please verify your identity?") if you're to receive a nonexistent Obamacare card or new Medicare card.

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But now experts are predicting a tsunami of schemes tied to the Oct. 1 launch of a program that will allow millions of uninsured Americans to shop for coverage through either state-run health insurance exchanges or the federal government.

Confusion over the Affordable Care Act will certainly help the con artists. Roughly half of people recently surveyed in a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll knew "nothing at all" about their state's plans to create an exchange, and two-thirds of uninsured Americans didn't understand how the new law affects them. About a fifth thought it had been repealed by Congress or overturned by the Supreme Court.

Already, scammers have established fake websites claiming to sell ACA insurance. Others have renewed tried-and-true government impostor scams — delivered via phone call, fax and email — in which they claim to represent Medicare or other government agencies, sometimes just saying they're "calling from Obamacare." The goal is to glean sensitive information for identity theft while pitching phony health plan enrollments.

And brace yourself for scamming Obamacare robocalls. Lois Greisman, an official with the Federal Trade Commission who oversees the national Do Not Call List, predicts they'll be a leading dinnertime annoyance in coming weeks — and possibly through 2014.

Don't fall for their ruse.

Next page: 8 ways to keep scammers at bay. »

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