(WNY News Now) – Chautauqua County’s Health Department and Office for Aging Services are joining forces once again to caution the community about the escalating threat of health insurance scams during the ongoing open enrollment period.
MAYVILLE, NY – In an effort to safeguard the public from falling victim to fraudulent schemes, the Chautauqua County Health Department and Office for Aging Services are advising residents to exercise caution and remain vigilant against health insurance scams prevalent during the open enrollment season. Scammers often target individuals by posing as representatives from official health agencies and attempt to extract personal information or financial resources.
“Scammers can be very convincing and creative, so we want residents to know the warning signs and what to do if a call or contact seems suspicious,” states Lacey Wilson, Chautauqua County Health Department’s Deputy Public Health Director. “Insurance companies should never contact you by phone, email or text to ask for personal information like your Social Security Number or bank information.”
“Medicare scammers often pretend to be from Medicare, or from a business you know, with the goal to steal your information,” states Dr. MaryAnn Spanos, Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Director. “They often make you believe the situation is urgent and you must provide money or information right then.”
The primary message from health officials is clear: Say no to scams. Residents are strongly urged not to disclose personal information, make payments, or share financial details with anyone claiming to be associated with Medicaid, CHIP coverage, or Marketplace assistance. Importantly, the official channels involved in health coverage, including the Marketplace, assisting organizations, and New York State agencies, will never resort to threatening tactics or request credit card information to maintain or qualify for health coverage.
Individuals are advised to be cautious and report any suspicious activity immediately. If someone calls, emails, or texts requesting personal information, money, or threatens legal action, residents are encouraged to report the incident promptly to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
For those seeking guidance on renewing Medicaid, Child Health Plus, or Essential Plan health insurance, New Yorkers are directed to visit the NY State of Health webpage dedicated to COVID-19 changes or the NY Medicaid website. Information on enrolling or renewing commercial Qualified Health Plan coverage for 2024 can be found on the NY State of Health website. Additional assistance is available by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-855-355-5777 (TTY: 1-800-662-1220).
For Medicare Open Enrollment assistance, residents can turn to the Office for Aging Services and local insurance agents who have received training from OFAS. To schedule an appointment or obtain a list of local trained agents, individuals can contact the NY Connects Helpline at 716-753-4582 for comprehensive assistance on aging-related concerns.