September 12, 2013 – Thousands of individuals, families and small businesses in Oregon are getting ready to sign up for health insurance and financial help through Cover Oregon–– a new online marketplace where Oregonians can compare and enroll in medical and dental insurance that fits their needs and budget, and access financial help––this fall. Starting Oct. 1, individuals and small businesses will be able to apply for health insurance through an agent or community partner, including Tribal organizations, who has been certified with Cover Oregon. Later in October, Oregonians will be able to apply online without the assistance of community partners or agents, if desired.
With any new high-profile program, there are scam artists who take advantage of change or confusion. Cover Oregon, the Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Insurance Division warn that people may pose as Cover Oregon representatives to collect fraudulent fees, sell fake insurance or steal personal identity. Some imposters may prey on the elderly by asking for personal information because of upcoming changes to Medicare.
“We’re committed to helping Oregonians distinguish between the real Cover Oregon and scammers looking to take advantage of people,” says Howard “Rocky” King, executive director of Cover Oregon. “Using our online marketplace and working with our certified community partners and agents is safe and convenient. If you’re ever in doubt, stop and call us to be sure you’re in good hands.”
To empower consumers to keep their information safe and avoid fraud, Cover Oregon, in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Insurance Division, recommends the following tips for consumers:
- Do not pay for help. There is no charge to use Cover Oregon services, either online or with the help of a certified agent or community partner. If consumers receive an offer to sign up on Cover Oregon for a fee, they should hang up the phone or walk away. Consumers should not give their credit card or banking information to anyone they do not know or did not contact.
- Make sure you are working with a certified Cover Oregon agent or community partner. Cover Oregon has certified insurance agents and community partners to help with enrollment – there is no charge for services. Referrals to trained, certified representatives will be available before October 1. Consumers can access this service by calling 1-855-CoverOR (1-855-268-3767) or visitingCoverOregon.com to find help in their area. Information is available in multiple languages. Consumers are advised to write down and keep the name, company, phone number, mailing address, email address and website of anyone who assists them.
- Protect health care and financial information. Cover Oregon will never visit or call people unannounced to ask for their Social Security number, credit card, or personal health information. Consumers should not share personal, financial or Medicare information with anyone they do not know even if they only ask you to confirm your information.
- Cover Oregon does not offer Medicare. Cover Oregon has no impact on Medicare and consumers cannot enroll in Medicare through Cover Oregon. Consumers should not share their Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts them uninvited. For questions, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
- Remember that you can ONLY get tax credits through Cover Oregon. Oregonians who purchase insurance through Cover Oregon may qualify for tax credits to help cut the cost. No one but Cover Oregon can offer these credits, and there is no charge to apply for the credits.
“We encourage Oregonians to follow these tips and this simple rule: STOP, CALL and CONFIRM,” says Ellen Klem, director of consumer outreach and education at the Oregon Department of Justice. “If something seems suspicious, stop and don’t share information. Call Cover Oregon or the Oregon Insurance Division and confirm whether an insurance company, agent, or other person is a certified Cover Oregon representative. Report any suspected fraud to the Oregon Department of Justice online at http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/index.aspx or by phone at 1-877-877-9392.”
For more information, consumers may call Cover Oregon toll free at 1-855-CoverOR (855-268-3767). Consumers can also call the Oregon Insurance Division toll free at 1-888-877-4894, which can help confirm that an insurance company, agent, community partner or other person is a certified Cover Oregon representative. People suspecting identity theft should call their local police department or the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338.