COLUMBUS — Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor has issued a cease and desist order to United States Contractors Trust (USCT) for selling fictitious health insurance coverage to at least four Ohioans. USCT is not licensed to sell insurance in Ohio and has also recently been ordered to stop its unauthorized insurance business in South Carolina, North Carolina, Vermont, Florida and Maine.
“Our mission at the Department is to protect Ohioans and take action against those who prey on innocent consumers,” Taylor said. “We urge Ohio consumers with information about this scam to contact the Department immediately.”
USCT is targeting people over the Internet with pre-existing health conditions that are experiencing difficulty finding insurance. Desperate to secure individual or family health insurance, the Ohioans eagerly completed contact information forms on innocuous-looking websites. The victims were then called by a USCT representative and eventually signed-up for what they thought was insurance. The victims agreed to have the monthly premium, ranging from $200 to $550, debited from their bank accounts.
The victims’ first few claims were paid but thereafter they began to receive unpaid medical bills and calls from medical providers explaining they were having difficulty processing the claim with USCT. When contacted by the victims and medical providers, USCT blamed the mix-up on computer problems and explained the matter would be resolved soon. This back and forth continued for months while money continued to be withdrawn from the victims’ checking accounts.
The Ohio Department of Insurance advises potential victims of this scam to take the following immediate steps: Contact your bank and have the automatic premium withdrawals stopped. Then call the Department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527.
Avoiding Health Insurance Scams:
- Fake insurance companies and dishonest people often try to sell coverage that is usually difficult to secure and sell policies that are significantly cheaper. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is!
- Ask if the company and person representing the product are licensed in Ohio. Then confirm the license status at www.insurance.ohio.gov and by calling 1-800-686-1526.
- Be cautious if there are not many questions about your health. Ask your own hard questions about the coverage and company.
- Be mindful that scammers will make marketing materials, letterhead and websites appear legitimate, including copying and using official documentation from real companies. Always carefully read and scrutinize all materials, including information on websites.
- Never provide your checking account number to have your premiums automatically deducted unless you are dealing with a reputable company. Be suspicious if you are being pressured into using the direct deposit payment method.