Upon receiving a phone call from Blue Cross & Blue Shield Rhode Island ("BCBSRI") alerting the Office that several BCBSRI members reportedly received phone calls from individual representing to be from BCBSRI seeking personal health information and personal identifying information, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is issuing a consumer alert to all BCBSRI members and all Rhode Islanders that these phone calls are a scam, also known as "phishing."
Based on information gathered by BCBSRI security officials, the phone calls appear to be made from a warehouse in New York City. These calls are not associated with BCBSRI. Callers contact members asking for personal health information, including insurance card numbers, as well as other personal identifying information including social security number and date of birth.
It is believed the scam is looking to obtain the information for possible health insurance fraud and/or identity theft.
While BCBSRI does retain outside companies to conduct member surveys and may contact members via the telephone regarding questions about their accounts, phone operators do not ask for social security numbers and other personal information.
"Consumers are very savvy in recognizing scams when they are asked for personal or financial information, but often health insurance information is not on their radar screen as a potential for financial fraud. It should be," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "Having health insurance information allows identity thieves to use your insurance to potentially obtain illegal medical services or devices on your dime, steal insurance reimbursements or obtain prescription drugs. Health insurance theft can be just as financially devastating as more traditional forms of identity theft. I commend Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island for contacting my office so together we can alert the public to this latest scam."
"Blue Cross is grateful to our members for bringing this to our attention, and we are working closely with the Attorney General's office to ensure all members are aware of it," said Michele Lederberg, General Counsel, BCBSRI. "We remain committed to taking every possible measure to protect our members' privacy, and encourage our members to remain vigilant."
What should you do if you receive one of these calls?
Ask the caller to properly identify themselves and ask for a phone number.
Do not call the phone number back.
Do not provide the caller with personal health information, including insurance ID or information regarding recent medical procedures.
Do not provide the caller with personal information such as social security number or date of birth.
Contact BCBSRI's Fraud Hotline directly at 1-800-424-8700 to report the phone call.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. For more information, please visit www.riag.ri.gov or call (401) 274-4400.
About Blue Cross & Blue Shield Rhode Island Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) is the state's leading health insurer and covers more than 550,000 members. Our mission is to improve our members' health and peace of mind by facilitating their access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. BCBSRI is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.com, follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI, and like us on Facebook at fb.com/bcbsrhodeisland.