When you or a loved one has a health issue, you want to make it better — and you’ll do everything in your power to find a resolution. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of people who are worried, confused and desperate for help. They might try to sell you a bogus health product, steal your information or trick you into paying extra “fees” related to your health insurance.
Here are some common scams and how to avoid becoming a victim:
Health product scams prey on people searching for a treatment or cure by providing false hope and selling misleading products through ads on TV, radio, by mail or online. They may be selling a magic pill, breakthrough treatment or new medical device claiming to cure cancer or solve a wide range of health problems. Victims pay a high price for products that not only fail to deliver on promises, but may actually be harmful to their health.
- Be wary of health products, devices and programs that sound too good to be true.
- Find out if the product is FDA-approved.
- Do your own research to learn more about product safety and results.
- Talk to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist before trying a new health product.
Health insurance scams may involve emails or unsolicited phone calls that prey on people who are confused about their health insurance or worried about losing coverage. They may threaten to cancel your coverage or try to collect payment for health insurance over the phone. They may try to get you to sign up for “medical discounts” or other plans with no real benefits.
Criminals are hoping that you will give up your information and part with your money without thinking twice. If you suspect something isn’t right, stop and review the facts. Report fraud by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go to ftc.gov/complaint.
- Don’t follow links from sources you don’t recognize.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited phone calls asking for your payment information.
- Don’t believe someone who threatens that you’ll lose your health insurance if you don’t pay for their help.
- Contact your health insurer directly if you have questions about coverage, enrollment or costs.
- Medical identity theft happens when medical information is stolen and used to illegally obtain medical services, prescription drugs or insurance reimbursements in your name.
- Don’t share your health plan ID number or Social Security number unless you know who you’re dealing with.
- Shred or destroy documents with sensitive information before you throw them out.
- Don’t sign any documents that you don’t understand.
- Be Alert to Scams