Don’t fall for latest health exchange scams

Don’t fall for latest health exchange scams

New Mexico’s health insurance exchange has been dragged into the scrum of this year’s tax-related scams, so, be on the alert for fraudulent calls from supposed beWellnm representatives.

The bogus callers are trying to get personal information as they take advantage of this winter’s tax-preparation season, the insurance exchange says.

Legitimate insurance representatives will never call customers asking them to text or email bank or credit card information, or their Social Security number, the exchange says.

Those who received insurance through the exchange last year must file a 1095-A form — Health Insurance Marketplace Statement — for their tax returns.

“Scammers know this and think they can take advantage, but we are here to protect consumers … ,” exchange chief executive officer Bruce Gilbert said in a written statement.

BeWellnm is providing free help with the form, which will be mailed to customers. The exchange’s call center can be reached at 1-833-862-3935.

Beware friendly texts

An Albuquerque man has been the target of some friendly text messages that are likely the work of robotexters.

He’s not alone. The incidence of unsolicited texts has been rising dramatically, according to the Federal Communications Commission, possibly because it can be more difficult to identify a fake text than it can be to spot a fake email,

The first text received by the Albuquerque man said, “This number has been in my mobile phone for a long time, but there is no name. Can you tell me your name?”

A few days later, he got this message: “Hi! everything fine?”

As the man put it, “It’s a clever trick. Simple and very hard not to be curious.” Had he responded to either text, the sender likely would have tried to acquire personal or financial information. At the minimum, a text in response would have shown the scammers that his was a “live number” ripe for further fraud efforts.

The FCC says the number of complaints it has received about unwanted texts has risen from 5,700 in 2019 to 15,300 in 2021 to 8,500 through the first half of 2022.

“Texts may include false-but-believable claims about unpaid bills, package delivery snafus, bank account problems or law enforcement actions against you, ” the FCC says. “They may provide confusing information — as if they were texting someone else — incomplete information, or utilize other techniques to spur your curiosity and engagement.”

For example, the Better Business Bureau has reported that scam bots are sending fake “wrong number” texts “to lure victims into conversation and falling for a scam.”

Some people have received messages about having met previously on a dating site and asking if they want to “meet up … are you free?”

If you reply with a polite, “Sorry, wrong number,” the stranger will ignore your answer, send you a few compliments and maybe a few photos, and then try to sign you up for a supposed website and try to get your credit card number, the BBB says.

Some tips:

  • Question motives behind both solicited and unsolicited messages. If you receive a text from someone you don’t know, don’t reply.
  • Unsolicited texts that look like they come from a chat bot or that ask you to click on links are most likely not safe, so block these numbers to prevent scammers from using them to contact you again.
  • Never give your personal information to strangers.

Contact Ellen Marks at [email protected] or 505-823-3972 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210, prompt 5.

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