NEW ORLEANS -- Even as the sign-up period for the Affordable Care Act opened Oct. 1, con artists were already trying to steal money from people confused about the changes in health insurance.
"We've had a lot of calls from people indicating that they were robocalls, that they were pop-ups, they were coming at them every which way," said Cynthia Albert of the New Orleans Better Business Bureau.
Callers to the New Orleans Better Business Bureau are describing a variety of schemes used by the crooks.
"They're claiming that individuals have been calling them, saying they're with the Affordable Care Act, and that they are calling to help them choose the plan that's best for them," said Lisa Cucinella of the BBB. "But the only thing they want, they want their personal information, Social Security numbers, financial information."
"And what they can do with that of course, is steal your identity," Albert said. "They can actually steal your identity."
The Federal Trade Commission had planned a campaign to try to put the scammers out of business, including taking complaints from consumers who were targeted. But the FTC has been affected by the government shutdown, so the Better Business Bureau is warning people to be extra cautious.
"The government will never call you and ask you to sign up for a health care plan," said New Orleans Better Business Bureau President Michael Cook.
"Don't feel pressured to make immediate decisions," said Kansas State University Financial Planner Elizabeth Kiss. "Always ask for information in writing."
"Bill, we're cautioning consumers to be extra careful," warned Cook. "Before they give any sensitive information, financial information, or personal information, we're encouraging them to check it out first."