With the Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline coming up on March 31, health insurance is on many people's minds. Unfortunately, that includes people who might use this opportunity to take advantage of others.
On Monday, Rich Dalbkermeyer's home phone was ringing off the hook.
"I had all these phone calls coming in, and I couldn't figure out what was going on," he said Thursday, outside his Dubuque County home.
He said he got some 20 calls throughout the day, between four different numbers.
"I answered one of them, and they're trying to sell me health insurance," Dalbkermeyer said. "I said, 'No, I don't need it. I already have coverage.' So it wasn't a few minutes later, another one called. Went through the same routine. This was going on all day."
He the callers didn't seem to know his name, just that he had been referred for wanting to buy health insurance.
"I knew right away something was wrong because they said, 'You've been referred on the computer or on the Internet.' I'm not Internet hooked up out here. I knew something was up," Dalbkermeyer said. "I said, 'Hey, what is going on? Is this about Obamacare? What's this about?' They, said, 'No, you signed up for health insurance.'"
According to Dalbkermeyer's caller ID, two of the four numbers that called him throughout the day were local, with a 563 area code.
Lt. Scott Baxter with the Dubuque Police Department said some scammers use technology referred to as "spoofing," to have a cover phone number show up on caller ID that can appear to be local - but isn't.
"It looks like it's a legitimate call," Baxter said, of spoofing. "A lot of people put full faith in their caller ID, whether it be on their cell phone or their land line, and they really shouldn't. That technology is out there that allows people to have that caller ID display whatever they want."
Angela Petsche is an outreach and enrollment coordinator through Crescent Community Health Center in Dubuque. She helps people sign up for health insurance and navigate the Affordable Care Act's healthcare.gov.
She said whether signing up for health insurance through healthcare.gov or independently, it's best to stay local and go with familiar companies.
Also, Baxter said, people should never give out sensitive information if they're suspicious of a caller.
"If (the call) is unsolicited, if you didn't initiate it, that should be a huge red flag for you right off the bat," he said.
Fortunately, Dalbkermeyer is already insured and didn't take the callers' bait.
People who are shopping around for health insurance can tune into KWWL on Tuesday, March 4. Representatives from the US Department of Health and Human Services will be in KWWL's studio to answer viewer questions about the Affordable Care Act and enrolling in a health insurance plan. That's from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on March 4.
Anybody with questions about health insurance through the Affordable Care Act can call Crescent Community Health Center's Angela Petsche at 563.552.8080 or click HERE to find a certified application counselor in your area through healthcare.gov.
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