The Affordable Care Act and you: Part 8

By WEEK Producer

November 11, 2013 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM CDT

From website glitches to outright confusion about the Affordable Care Act, scammers are actively looking for news ways to take your money.

In our weekly report on the ACA in Illinois we have some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Fraud is running rampant now that the health insurance marketplace is open, and criminals are ready to pounce to rip you off.

"We think it's a golden opportunity for scam artists to try to take advantage and try to scam some consumers out of money,” said John Breyault of the National Consumer League.

Breyault said con-artists are cold-calling people, asking for personal information and threatening them with harsh penalties if they don't buy insurance right now on the phone.

"There's a lot of confusion with the Affordable Care Act right now. Some people aren't sure what's right and what's wrong,” he said.

Jessica Tharp is Vice President of the Better Business Bureau of Central Illinois. She said they have been getting reports of three scams in particular.

The first works on fear. Someone calls, claiming they are from the Internal Revenue Service.

"They're told if they don't provide a certain amount of money, usually a large amount, a thousand dollars or more, by the end of the day, they're going to be arrested,” Tharp said.

Because of the government shutdown, the fake IRS agent will say the payment can not be made on the phone. They tell their target they will have to go to WalMart and send the money by Western Union, or put the money on a GreenDot card and mail it.

Tharp said targets are told to “not tell the WalMart employee that this is for the IRS, because they'll charge you more."

She said the second scam involves a con-artist calling, claiming to be from a government agency, asking for basic personal information. Some people are reporting receiving e-mails or having someone come to their door.

"The biggest tip here is the U.S. government isn't going to email you, and they're not going door-to-door to get your personal information,” Tharp said.

The third scam involves seniors. Many of them do not have computers and think it will be more convenient to sign up for insurance on the phone when a con-artist calls.

"Let's not forget that these scam artists are very good at what they do, so they're very good at convincing people that they are who they say they are, and that you're supposed to do what they say,” Tharp said.

For more information on scams visit http://heartofillinois.bbb.org