According to a press release from Morrisey's office, the Federal Trade Commission reports imposters claim the consumer needs to purchase insurance or pay a fine. If the person “presses 1” as instructed, an operator will ask for personal information, including a full name, date of birth, phone number, income data and Social Security number.
“Many people are still learning how to navigate through all the changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act, “ Morrisey said in the release. “The imposters use this uncertainty to their advantage, as it is very easy for someone to pretend to be someone they’re not.”
Like many states, West Virginia experiences a high percentage of benefits fraud related to identity theft.
An FTC analysis of 10,000 complaints from West Virginia consumers found imposter scams to have been the most prevalent type of fraud in 2015, with such scams accounting for 1,633 complaints, or 20 percent, in 2015.
The AG's office encourages all consumers to follow these tips when asked to give personal information:
• Do not give out personal information via the phone, mail or Internet unless you can verify the identity of the recipient.
• If a caller says you must pay immediately, take down the necessary information and then independently verify whether you owe the money.
• Be wary if someone uses bullying tactics to receive payment. Hang up and call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office to report the incident.
Consumers who believe they may have been a victim of a scam or have been taken advantage are asked call the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle field office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239. To file a report online, go to www.wvago.gov.