JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

With the Affordable Health Care Act underway, agencies around the country are receiving numerous reports of identity theft when scammers solicit personal information under the guise of helping those victims sign up for the new program.

Although investigators have not seen this in Jacksonville, the Sheriff's Office said it anticipates it to be a problem and wants to warn people so they do not fall for this scam.

Scammers are using the ACA as a way to fool victims into sharing their personal information.

How the scam works

You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The caller informs you that you've been selected to receive insurance cards through the new Affordable Health Care Act. However, before he/she can mail your card, the caller needs to collect personal information.

Scammers do a lot to make their requests seem credible. For example, they may have your bank's routing number and ask you to provide your account number. They may ask for your credit card or Social Security number, Medicare ID or other personal information.

Sharing personal information with a scammer puts you at risk for identity theft. Scammers can use the information they obtain to open credit cards in your name or steal from your bank account.

How to spot a scam and protect yourself

Con artists are taking advantage of the confusion and buzz surrounding the Affordable Health Care Act implementation. Here's what you can do to protect yourself:

Hang up, don't press any buttons, and if you received a voice mail message, don't call the scammer back. Many people like to have the last word, but returning the phone call may just give the con artist information he can use.

The government typically doesn't call, text or email. Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited calls, text messages or emails you receive. Also, if the government is contacting you, they should already have your basic personal info, such as your Social Security number.

Don't trust caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.

There is only one place to shop for a qualified health plan: www.HealthCare.gov, which is run by the Federal Trade Commission's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Who is being targeted?

Anyone can be the victim of this scam, but some groups are more likely to be targeted than others. The new law has special provisions for the following groups:

  • People 65 years or older
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Owners of small businesses