Scam Alerts

Automobile Scams

You’re driving minding your own business. A car darts in front and brakes. You rear-end the car. It’s a staged crash forever changing your life.

The scams

Swoop & squat. A vehicle swoops in front and jams on its brakes. You hit the rear. Passengers claim painful injuries. Your auto policy is falsely billed thousands.

Drive-down. You’re merging or turning. A dishonest driver waves you forward, then deliberately crashes into your vehicle blaming you. Drivers also wave you out of a parking space, then dart into your path.

Go & Stop. You’re stuck in traffic. The driver in front begins to move. You think traffic is finally going so you follow. Suddenly the car in front slams on the brakes.
Shady helpers. A stranger approaches the crash scene, or phones you right after. They try to steer you to a medical clinic, body shop or lawyer. You’re being set up for bogus insurance claims.

You pay

Premiums rise. Setups raise your auto premiums, or cancel your policy. Crash schemes raise everyone’s premiums.

Victims. Innocent drivers are terrorized, injured and even killed.

Life disrupted. You spend months dealing with repairs, insurance claims, lawyers — all due to fraud.

Fight Fraud

  • Never tailgate. Allow plenty of space between the vehicle in front. You have more time to stop safely.
  • Photograph the scene, vehicle damage and passengers.
  • Count passengers in the other vehicle. Get names, phone numbers and driver license.
  • How do they behave? Are they fine, even joking, but suddenly act injured when police arrive?
  • Get a police report — even for minor damage.
  • Only see medical and legal providers you know and trust. Ignore strangers who steer you.
  • Notify your insurer, police and state insurance fraud bureau if you suspect a setup scam.

A bandit tow truck arrives minutes after a crash? Know how to steer clear of towing cons.

The scams

Patrol towing. A tow-driver has a spotter who sees a car parked illegally. The driver takes your car to an impound lot.

Inflation. Charging fees far above your auto policy limits. You’re forced to pay out of pocket. Watch for inflated and suspicious fees — inspections, photos,,, administrative. .

Steering. You’re in a crash, and a tow mysteriously arrives. The driver be in cahoots with a dishonest body shop.

You pay for fraud

  • Out of pocket for hundreds of dollars.
  • Retrieving your vehicle may take days of anxiety and effort.
  • Bogus repairs make your vehicle unsafe … and future bills you pay from your own pocket.

Fight Fraud

Plan. Know your auto insurer’s roadside program or join a reputable plan. They know reputable towing firms and repair shops.

Lurkers. Never use a towing firm that just happens to show up. Ask police or your insurer for a reputable tow.

You Pick. Never let the tow truck driver choose the shop. Call your insurer or others you trust.

Read. Sign only the approval form authorizing your tow. The rest can wait.

Price. Make sure the towing firm gives you a price list up front detailing all fees.

Document. Insist the tow driver gives you a signed damage report at the accident scene..

Credit. Refuse to deal with a towing firm demanding cash.

Info. Never give the tow driver your insurance or other personal information.

Report. Notify your auto insurer, state insurance fraud bureau and police if you suspect a scam.

Body shops keep your vehicle running well, fix damage, and your car safe for the road. Most are honest, but watch for scammers.

Padding. Inflating repair bills beyond the original estimate or repairs for fake or unrelated damage.

Counterfeit parts. Installing counterfeit, used or substandard parts, while charging for new parts. These parts may fail while you’re on the road.

Shoddy or no work. Cutting corners or failing to do agreed to repairs..

The price for fraud

Safety. You and others are in danger when you drive a poorly repaired vehicle.

Stress. Avoid headaches and wasted time. Get it done right the first time.

Higher i premiums. Inflated and unneeded repairs raise your auto premiums.

Stop fraud

Find a trusted shop. Ask for your insurer or others your trust to find a trusted body shop i. Are the technicians ASE-certified?

Written damage reports. These provide more details of your repairs than basic written estimates.

Deductible waivers. Refuse offers to recover or “waive” your insurance deductible. This is insurance fraud.

Bill higher than estimate? Ask the shop to explain extra charges. All invoices should itemize work, parts, repairs and guarantees. 

See a scam? Notify the insurer covering the repairs, your state insurance fraud bureau and police if you suspect a scam.

You’re driving along. Another car careens across the lane and collides. Your airbags should protect you and your family. The airbags don’t deploy. They’re bogus.

The scams

The pullout. Body shops insert a cheap knockoff airbag in place of your deployed one. Your insurer is billed for the real thing.

The switch. Body shop steal your un-deployed airbag to resell then insert a fake or even rags and trash to fill the void.

Used & salvaged vehicles. Scammers install bogus or no airbags in used or salvaged vehicles after being totaled in a flood or crash.

You pay

Lives & safety. Lives are at stake without working airbags. Innocent drivers die in crashes with knockoff airbags.

Higher premiums. Airbag swindles raise auto premiums for all drivers.

Fight back

Dashboard light works? When you start your vehicle, a dash light should flash if your airbag works. No light means a problem.

Invoice accurate. Check invoices to verify the body shop bought the airbag from a legitimate manufacturer or dealer.

Used and salvaged vehicles. Have a certified mechanic make sure the vehicle has working airbags — before you buy.

Avoid tampering. Don’t open the airbag compartment yourself — it might explode.

Report scams. Contact your auto insurer, law enforcement and state fraud bureau.

Health Scams

Fake and deceptive health plans promise full coverage, but deliver worthless or no benefits. Leaving large medical bills paid from your pocket.

The scams

Phony benefits. The plan promises full-benefits at low prices. Including pre-existing conditions, specialists and other essential benefits. Watch for cold callers, fake websites, email pitches and TV ads.

ACA-required. Falsely claiming coverage is mandated by the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Obamacare or even “Trumpcare.”

Pays little. You receive a limited-benefit or discount plan paying few or no expenses.

Fake website. Websites urge you to buy coverage online. They want your credit card. The website appears to be from a legitimate insurer, or an official Affordable Care Act signup portal.

Bogus association. You have to join an “association” or “union” to buy coverage. Typically these groups are fake.

You pay

Big Bills. You’re forced to pay most or all medical bills yourself —sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.

Danger Delay. Finding new health coverage after discovering your plan is fake may delay urgent medical treatment.

Fight Fraud

Licensed? Contact your state insurance department to make sure the plan and agent are licensed.

Go slow. Avoid signing up if you’re pressured to buy quickly— or the price seems too low. 

Read. Review the policy before buying. Have a qualified expert review. Does the policy deliver what the sales pitch promises?

Verify any “association” or “union.” Does it have a website? Is the site vague about its activities and mostly hypes health coverage?

Notify your insurance department. Contact your state fraud bureau if you think you’re dealing with a fake health plan.

 

Your health plan covered your surgery, or maybe childbirth. At least you thought. Then large bills pour in afterward. They’re uninsured, forcing you to pay from your pocket. Maybe for an extra surgeon or anesthesiologist.

Surprise medical bills are increasingly common. Your medical facility used personnel who are out of your health plan’s network. Nor were you told in advance, or given a chance to shop around.

The scams

Surprise billings can be legal though unwelcome, unfair and financially draining.
Out-of-network charges can be fraudulent. Maybe for a physician when a nurse should’ve been used. Or needless extra tests or medical equipment were ordered.

Dishonest doctors illegally bribe colleagues to be included and billed in your surgery or other medical procedure. These are illegal kickbacks.

The price you pay

  • You’re charged thousands of dollars in surprise medical bills.
  • Your credit can be damaged if you can’t pay the bills on time.
  • Resolving the problems can cost many hours of aggravation — when you’re healing from surgery or another procedure.

Fight back: before treatment

  • If possible, ask your health insurer, doctor and hospital what bills you’ll have to pay. Also ask for the projected cost. Get a signed and written agreement.
  • Shop for the best deal that’s covered by your health policy.

Fight back: after treatment

  • Appeal surprise bills to your insurer. Request that the insurer pay.
  • Contact the medical facility and your health insurer to review bills. Billed for treatments you didn’t receive? Unrequested out-of-network charges?
  • Some states protect you from certain surprise bills. This is especially true of medical emergencies. Check with your state insurance department.
  • Consider contacting a state-level consumer advocate for help.
  • Contact your state fraud bureau if you suspect fraud.

Most dentists are ethical professionals. A small but disturbing number are dishonest. They exploit their position of authority to bilk trusting patients with useless and often painful treatment, and shady billing practices.

The scams

Unneeded treatment. Perform useless surgery on healthy patients to hike their insurance billings. The dentists remove healthy teeth, do root canals that aren’t needed, and drill for cavities that don’t exist.

Inflated billings. Dentists do minor procedures such as routine tooth cleanings, but bill your insurance plan for costlier treatments.

Phantom treatment. Dentists bill insurers for treatments they never perform. They send the insurer forged bills.

Unqualified employees. Some dentists have unqualified staff perform treatments — yet bill as if the dentist performed the treatment.

The price you pay

Painful, dangerous and disfiguring surgery. Needless surgeries such as worthless root canals can be painful. Surgeries can become swollen and infected.

Your policy limits can max out. False billing can exhaust your dental policy limits. You may have to pay expensive bills from your own pocket, or delay needed treatment.

Your dental premiums may rise. Fraudulent claims can force your insurance premiums higher.

Fight back

Verify you need the treatment. A dentist may urge treatment that seems unneeded — such as eight cavity drillings. Get a second opinion to confirm you need the work.

Check out dentists. Call your state insurance department and state dental board. Was the dentist disciplined for wrongdoing? Currently licensed?

Review your explanation of benefits. Make sure your insurance plan is billed only for treatments and supplies you received.

Suspect a swindle? Contact your insurer and state insurance department. Contact Medicare or Medicaid if you have these benefits.

Stay with your kids. Some dentists perform unneeded surgery on kids — especially those covered by Medicaid. Ask to stay in the treatment room to ensure no excessive procedures are done.

Thieves steal your medical identity. They line their pockets with false health care claims.  Malware, hacks, phishing, and robocall spoofs increase your danger. The scams

Illegal and bogus treatment. Thieves bill your health plan for fake or inflated treatment. Organized rings sell your information on the Dark Web.

Addictive drugs. Medical providers steal painkillers or other drugs using your name — they feed their addictions or sell for profit.

Stealing treatment. Uninsured persons receive free medical treatment courtesy of your health policy. Often trusted friends or relatives stole your information.

You pay

Credit ruined. Unpaid medical bills wreck your credit. Regaining it takes months or years. While being turned down for needed loans or mortgages.

Health coverage lost. Bogus claims max out your health policy. You’ll have less or no coverage when needed. .

Health risks. False treatments go on your records. The wrong blood type, or medicine to which you’re allergic.

Fight Fraud Digital defense

Be careful Beware. Providers never text or email sensitive medical info. Use the provider’s secure portal or call

Phishing. Bogus emails and calls claim to be a health insurer or government agency. Don’t share your health policy, credit card or SSN Never open unknown links.

Avoid public wi-fi. Don’t log into your health accounts on public wi-fi. Thieves troll open wi-fi sites.

Keep Healthy

Verify. Review all explanation of health benefits statements to confirm treatments are valid.

Defend your credit. Check your credit reports regularly for fraud.

Medical records. If you suspect ID theft, notify your medical provider to correct medical record errors.

Report. Report any identity scam to your health insurer, state department of insurance and police. You’re on record your information was stolen.

Other scams

Most insurance agents and insurers are ethical and trustworthy. But imagine you make a claim home only to find you have no coverage. What happened?

The scams

• Stolen premiums. An agent pockets your insurance premiums instead of buying promised coverage. 

• Phony insurance. An agent sells fake coverage from a phony insurer. You receive a forged policy or proof of insurance. Thousands of dollars are lost if you make a claim using a bogus policy.

• Coverage you don’t need. The policy is expensive and unneeded, or your current policy already covers you. Buy the policy which is right for you needs.

• Churning. Dishonest agents urge you to use the built-up value of your whole life policy to buy a “better” policy — even though your current coverage is fine.

• Sliding. An agent or insurer secretly slips in extra coverage. Your premiums increase. Motor club memberships, accidental death coverage and guaranteed renewable life insurance are some examples.

• Twisting. Urging you to switch policies by “twisting” the facts about your risk.. If you have an illness, injury or other medical condition, will your new health policy cover you despite a pre-existing medical condition?

Avoid the scams

  • Verify the agent and insurer are licensed in your state — contact your state insurance department. Check for any history of complaints.
  • Beware if the agent offers coverage priced suspiciously low. Shop around.
  • Pay premiums by check, credit card or money order — not cash. May payments to the insurance company. Get a receipt.
  • Pay for coverage only when all documents are filled out, and you know the coverage and cost.
  • Go slow if the agent or insurer seems evasive or tries to sell you coverage without “bothering” you with details.
  • Contact the insurer if you haven’t received a policy within 60 days after submitting your application.
  • Get a second opinion if an agent or insurer tries to sell you new or more expensive coverage.
  • Know what your policy covers and doesn’t . Get a detailed explanation in plain language.
  • Report scams. Notify your insurer, state insurance fraud bureau and police if you suspect a scam.

An attorney may help you receive the insurance funds you deserve. Most attorneys are honest, yet watch for those who may steal your insurance payout.

The scams

Forwarding you a settlement check for less than you were awarded. Secretly depositing the rest in their account.

Forging your signature on settlement checks.

Not truthfully presenting your claim.

You pay

You may lose needed insurance funds when needed or all coverage if there is fraud.

Home or auto repairs — even medical bills — go unpaid after a storm, fire or accident.

You may have to pay large bills from your own pocket without full insurance funds.

Fight Fraud

Avoid attorneys who aggressively approach you immediately after an auto crash or calamity.

Ask others you trust about attorneys they know. Check the attorney’s record with the local bar association.

Insist on seeing and signing all insurance checks. Require a written settlement statement.

Be suspicious of delays in responding. You deserve prompt responses and updates.

Keep a phone log, all emails, paperwork and correspondence.

Report suspected improper actions to your state fraud bureau and local bar association.

If you attorney stole from you, contact your state’s Client Security Trust Fund to see if you’re eligible for compensation.

Hurricanes, tornados, floods, hail and fires cause damage every year..

You want to get things back quickly. Most contractors are honest, yet some want to line their pockets at your expense.

The scams

  • Strangers appear after a storm, offering “affordable” repairs. They’re called storm chasers.
  • Lowball bids like “special post-disaster deals” or “limited time offers.”
  • Shoddy repairs, using substandard material.
  • Inflating the claim. You may lose all coverage.
  • Asking for large up-front payments — then disappearing while doing little or no work.
  • Convincing you to sign over your claim. The contractor may make inflated repair claims behind your back.

Fraud hurts

  • Shoddy or incomplete repairs often take months of stress to correct
  • Your claim may be denied for fraud — leaving you to pay.

Stop fraud

Hire local. Use reputable contractors. Avoid strangers who go door-to-door, especially after a storm. They may be unlicensed and dishonest.

Get several bids. Multiple bids help protect you. .

Licensed? Ask to see a contractor’s licenses. Then confirm with the government licensing agency.

Insured? Require proof of liability and workers-compensation insurance.

Signed contract. Get a signed contract — before work begins. Don’t sign contracts with blanks.

Avoid advance payment. Never pay a contractor in full before work begins. Normally 20 percent or less upfront is reasonable

Repairs insured? Make sure your insurer will cover repairs — before work starts. Have your insurance adjuster estimate both damage and repair costs.

Coordinate with insurer. Ask your insurer inspect the damage and agree to the repairs before work starts.

Report scams. Contact your insurer, state insurance fraud bureau and police if you suspect a repair scam.

 

Workers compensation protects job-injured employees. Medical bills, lost wages and other expenses are paid while a worker heals. Yet some game the system with bogus injuries.

Why fake an injury?

Free money. “Injured” workers secretly take a job or open a business. They claim lost wages from their workers comp policy — while illegally earning extra money.

Play. Workers illegally collect insurance while doing personal activities. Like skydiving, playing soccer, weight lifting or fixing up their home.

The Scams

Off the job. Workers get injured off the job, but say they’re hurt at work so their workers comp policy covers the bills.

Inflate. A minor job injury occurs but the claim is for far more.

Fake. Invented injuries. Fake back and neck injuries. Think this is easy to get away with — wait until you are caught.

Malingering. Pretend you’re still disabled — even though you’re healed and can return to work.

You pay

Workers. Caught! Lose your job, face jail plus fines and no future work.

Everyone. Bogus injuries drive up premiums. Everyone pays. Higher costs may force layoffs and salary freezes.

Stop Fraud

Workers:

Your rights. Seek treatment and benefits you deserve. Know your injured worker rights in your state.

Report. Notify your supervisor immediately if you suspect fraud.

Beware. Doctors may urge excessive tests or treatments. Avoid lawyers aggressively recruiting you to sign-up.

Employers:

Safety First. Create a safe workplace. Listen to complaints. Correct safety risks. Show you care.

Zero tolerance. Inform employees this is a no-fraud zone.

Check. Background checks for prior suspicious injury claims stop more fraud.

Proof. Require reporting of job accidents immediately and document fully.

Report. Encourage reporting of suspected fraud confidentially. Create a fraud reporting system.

Notify: Suspect a scam? Contact your insurer, state insurance fraud bureau and police.

Preying on grief: the “gravest” fraud…

Scammers monitor obituaries for grieving victims who may let their guard down. They pitch surviving spouses with tempting deals. Grieving spouses are targets.

Life Scams

A scammer claiming to be a life-insurance agent says your deceased spouse bought a $1 million or more life policy but wanted to keep the policy secret. The catch…the final premium is owed before the payment will be released.

Pay now so you can receive the $1 million. Just wire the money to a bank account, send gift cards or pay with your credit card. The policy is bogus.

Health Hoaxes 

Your health policy is expiring, a caller says. Just pay with your credit card, money order or cash to keep your policy active.

Contractor Cons

Shady contractors demand pay for repairs the spouse supposedly signed for. Others try to offer special “deals” to do repairs or provide services after a loss. Promises insurance companies will reimburse for repairs are often false.

You pay

You’re robbed of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Your identity may be stolen. Plus unneeded emotional and financial stress.

Fight back

Verify: Contact the insurer, your attorney or financial advisor to verify the agent and policy are real.

Beware: Pressuring for fast financial decisions under duress may signal a dishonest motive. Avoid repair deals, especially if you’re pressured. Contact your lawyer for advice.

Report: If you feel you are being scammed notify law enforcement, your state department of insurance and your insurance carrier.