HOUSTON - For those still thinking about options for health insurance or medicare open-enrollment, there is not much time left to make a decision.
But a warning that an unsolicited offer to help, may not be what it seems. Signing up for any kind of coverage requires revealing some sensitive personal information.
So, if the phone rings from someone who says they're offering just what you need, you'd do well to wonder who's helping whom. Houston tech-expert Juan Guevara Torres recently received a voicemail from a number he didn't recognize.
"We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you and have a good day," concluded the call from a friendly-sounding voice. Still, the number was identified as a pesky robocall, which follows a familiar pattern.
Armed with a name and a phone number, the caller can use that to pry additional personal information out of unsuspecting consumers. These latest calls are pitching health insurance coverage, which would require addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and health histories.
Add-in some concern about the future of the Affordable Care Act, and the stakes can get pretty high. "These people are using the fear of the people to make some rash decisions to get into the hands of people who want to steal their information," says Guevara Torres.
When the call was returned, an operator said she was calling on behalf of the Aetna insurance company, to schedule an annual, free, Home Health Visit. When Guevara Torres started to question the outreach, the operator hung up.
An Aetna representative was unavailable to comment, but the company website notes their 'healthy home visits' are conducted by phone and not in client homes, as suggested by the operator.
The Better Business Bureau says health-care calls can be bogus, suggesting you beware of unsolicited contact and offers of 'free health screenings'. The BBB warns that personal information should be guarded and such calls should be avoided, in exchange for business with official numbers and websites.