Scam artists on the prowl as health care exchanges begin

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The rollout this week of a big chunk of the Affordable Care Act has internet security experts on edge. They're expecting criminals to have a rollout of their own of their new scams.

Those health insurance exchanges we've heard so much about will start up and be online Tuesday. Unfortunately, so will the crooks who are always fishing to get your credit card or bank account numbers.

"This might be the opportunity of the decade for the phishers," said Bob Sullivan, author and internet security expert.

They're expected to dress up emails to look legitimate and entice you to click on links that lead only to trouble.

"So if you get an email that says "Do this or you're gonna lose your benefits", there's a pretty decent chance you're gonna click on that and look into it," said Wade Baker, Verizon RISK Team.

Internet security experts say the crooks plan to cash in on the confusion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."

"I don't know how the legitimate exchanges will be able to distinguish themselves and their emails from the phishing emails," said Sullivan.

They say if there's ever a time to be vigilant, it's now.

"We need to be suspicious of it. If it's unsolicited, comes from someone you don't know, that should be an automatic flag. If it's poorly written, that's another flag," said Baker.

"Another thing that will help people. No matter how annoying it might be is: Every time you go to one of these websites, go up to that address bar and type it manually and re-login that way. Don't use any links sent out by anybody," said Sullivan.

They also say not to hurry. People who are eligible to buy health insurance through the exchanges have until next April to sign up.

Other tips to keep in mind:

The insurance marketplaces are only for people who don't already have health insurance. If you already have health insurance, you don't have to do anything.

The government is not calling, or sending emails, or knocking on people's doors to sign them up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. However, there will be town hall-style meetings and official "navigators" to help people make decisions about coverage.

The most trusted site to use is

Health insurance exchange workshops will be held Oct. 8 and 9 at the Central Library in Indianapolis. See more here. Call 317-275-4100 for info:

Adults are invited to learn about resources related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and receive assistance in signing up for the health insurance marketplace. Representatives from various health organizations will be available to discuss the health insurance marketplace, demonstrate the website, and explain steps to enroll in a health care plan. Individuals can also work with trained volunteer navigators on Library computers to explore the marketplace, establish an account, and enroll in a plan if they want. This program is presented in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services. Presentations will be held in the Knall Meeting Room. Computer assistance is available in the Computer Training Lab.

Oct. 8: 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Oct. 9: 2:00 to 4:00 pm