Experts warn against insurance call schemes

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PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Open enrollment for health insurance ends Jan. 15 and people may have received random calls offering to sign up for new plans, but experts warn some calls may not be sure.

Pharr resident Isidro Hernandez received a random call from an unknown number informing him of new insurance plan options, leading him to believe it was his provider.

“I got a call and I thought it was my health coverage calling me to change, so I accepted the call,” he said.

Hernandez said the caller pressured him to change his health plan and offered him an incentive to enroll in a new plan.

“We’re gonna give you a free laptop today just for signing up today, I’m like okay?” he said.

Hernandez was told he would be transferred to another enrollment counselor and given a tracking number for the laptop after the call, but prior to the transfer he was coached on what he had to say.

He said he was advised not to mention the free laptop on future calls, which made him feel uncomfortable about the experience.

Hernandez explained that he was given a phone number after he was signed up for a new plan and that the number is tied to the Ensure Health group.

“We are a company that works under your main companies, we are able to submit applications and everything and do all their backhand work for them. It’s basically a third party hired to do the job for them,” a representative from Ensure Health Group said.

Hernandez contacted Ensure Health Group to ask about his registration and the laptop and he was informed that the initial call received was not from their offices.

“The company that originally called you, they transferred you to us, so I’m glad you mentioned that,” the rep Hernandez contacted said.

The experience left Hernandez confused and concerned about his identity being stolen after speaking with numerous representatives, which led him to file a police report and contact the Better Business Bureau.

Hilda Martinez, president of the Better Business Bureau, said her office had received many calls since the start of the year and that it was important to educate the community about the programs.

“As a consumer, you have to ask them the questions. When will I receive this laptop, when and where can I pick it up, before giving you any information, how about giving me information about your company,” she said.

Martinez explained that schemes and fraudulent activity occur through more than just phone calls.

“Be very careful when receiving text messages and receiving messages through Facebook, many of these scammers identify themselves as your friend or family member, so be very careful of that as well,” she said.

Martinez urges consumers to contact the Better Business Bureau with any suspicious phone calls.

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