PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Open enrollment for health insurance ends on Jan 15, and people may have received random calls offering enrollment in new plans, but experts warn some calls may not be safe.
Isidro Hernandez, a resident of Pharr, received a random call from an unfamiliar 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 switch, so I went along with the call,” he said.
Hernandez said the caller pressured him to change his health plan and offered an incentive for enrolling in a new plan.
“We’re going to give you a free laptop today just for signing up today, I’m like okay?” he said.
Hernandez was advised he would be transferred to another advisor for enrollment and was told he would receive a tracking number for the laptop after the call, but before the transfer, he was coached on what to say.
He said he was advised not to mention the free laptop on the next calls, making him feel uneasy about the experience.
Hernandez explained he was provided with a phone number after being enrolled in a new plan and the number is linked to Ensure Health Group.
“We’re a business that works under your main companies, we’re able to submit applications and everything and do all their backhand work for them. It’s just basically a third party hired to do the work for them,” an Ensure Health Group representative said.
Hernandez contacted Ensure Health Group to ask about his enrollment and about the laptop and he was advised the initial call received was not from their offices.
“The company that called you originally, they transferred you over to us, so I’m glad you mentioned that,” the representative Hernandez contacted said.
The experience left Hernandez confused and concerned about his identity being stolen after speaking with many representatives, which led him to file a police report and contact the Better Business Bureau.
Hilda Martinez, the president of the Better Business Bureau, said their office has received many calls since the year started, and educating the community on schemes is important.
“As a consumer what you need to do is ask them the questions. When am I going to receive this laptop, when or where can I pick up this laptop, before I give you any kind of information, how about you give me some information about your business,” she said.
Martinez explained that schemes and fraudulent activity happen through more than just phone calls.
“Be very careful of receiving text and receiving messages through Facebook, a lot of these scammers identify themselves as being your friend or a family member, so be very careful with that as well,” she said.
Martinez urges consumers to contact the Better Business Bureau with any suspicious phone calls.