Scammers trying to cash in on Affordable Care Act

Ted Hubert

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing one of the world’s most successful spammers and the company used to make contacts with Americans falling under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations and requirements. Some are not taking the ACA seriously enough and it could cost them more money in the future. The ACA is not an option where you can choose to work with the law or not. The ACA has penalties for non-compliance which compounds year after year. You may not agree with the law, but you must obey the law or pay a fine.

Should every American citizen have access to health care or is this a service for only those that can afford to pay the insurance premiums? Everyone has an answer to this question, just ask them.

Bridget Small, FTC consumer Education Specialist explains in an article titled “Ending Spam Scam about the Affordable Care Act”, that fraudulent emails carried spam messages to thousands of citizens months before the deadlines. The spammer used headlines as the focus, which make the spam more believable. The article dated Jan. 23 did not go into details. It is under investigation. Let’s watch for the result of the law suit in the news reports sometime in the future. Maybe, it will be aired on local or national tv, who knows?

Art by Kemar Spencer, a second-grader at Rockdale Elementary School. Art by Kemar Spencer, a second-grader at Rockdale Elementary School. According to Small the messages were threatening because the deadline for applying for the ACA is now. Readers were instructed to “click” on a website icon for more information. Those that followed the directions found page after page of ads for products.

You should know the difference between spam and scam, hopefully. Do you understand that spam is unwanted and unsolicited commercial ads? Scams are attempts to separate victim into sending money to someone for products, services or whatever that are never sent. Schemes that promise instant wealth with absolutely no risk, is scam or con game. Spam is junk mail.

It is best to receive neither a spam nor a scam. If the spams are such an annoyance that you want to eliminate them from showing up on your computer or at least decrease this unwanted traffic, then try these suggestions: Get a email filter. The email filter can be a blessing or a curse. Those having the email filtering service need to check the email filtered out on a regular basis to catch mail you want. The filter does an overkill in this area at times. When you are asked if an email had been received, before you say “no” I did not get your email, check the email filter.

You can limit the number of spams by having two email accounts. In one account you use for personal contacts and in the other account you do your shopping, newsletters, chat rooms, coupons, web surfing and other services. This is good advice because you are tracked when you go online. Businesses want to know your interests, what you are shopping for today. Once this is known you will start receiving spam. Having most of the spam in one email address makes the deleting chore easier. This works well. Try it.

Do you ever check the privacy policy or see if the small box has an “X” which might give the company permission to sell your email address. Does anyone ever read the policy prior to agreeing to the policies and moving on? More might look at these policies more carefully now.

Hackers and spammers search for computers online that are unprotected. These computers are linked into a “botnet” which carries millions of pieces of spam at the touch of a button. An unprotected computer from malware can be invaded and controlled remotely.

It is always good to disconnect from the internet when not at your computer. Hackers and spammers cannot get information from you if you are not on the internet. There are easier ways than unplugging the power cord to the computer, but that is effective. Shutting down the computer or placing it in the “standby mode” puts the machine to sleep. If you have a DSL box, then look for the amber light on the box. If the light is out the computer is offline or a light bulb needs replacing.

It is important to watch for downloads you did not request and you are at risk when you “click” on some icon provided by the sender. If you do not know them, do not download or use telephone numbers and other items listed for your convenience.

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2014-01-30 digital edition

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