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Ford warns of scams in credit repair, insurance

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, in partnership with the Nevada Division of Insurance, on Wednesday encouraged Nevadans to stay vigilant as scammers attempt to take advantage of struggling individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the American Rescue Plan Act, Nevadans have through Aug. 15 to enroll in or change their health plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace because of the COVID-19 emergency. Nevadans shopping for a new plan should be aware that deceptive telemarketers and websites have been advertising discount medical and short-term plans, falsely claiming that they are Affordable Care Act-compliant.

Entities are reaching out to consumers via robocalls, telemarketing or through misleading websites that appear legitimate and might have similar names to legitimate insurance companies.

“When shopping for insurance, stick to the Nevada Health Link website as your first stop,” Ford said. “These fake websites are intentionally confusing, leaving consumers who fall for them with unpaid medical bills.”

“Limited health benefit plans serve a purpose but are not meant for long-term use and have gaps in coverage because they are not designed to be comprehensive health insurance, whereas ACA-compliant plans are,” Insurance Commissioner Barbara Richardson said. “Be vigilant, understand the policy you are buying, and reach out to the division if you have questions.”

If you receive an unsolicited call from a health insurance company, do not provide any personal information over the phone. Consumers are encouraged to research the difference between limited benefit plans, ACA-compliant plans and other types of plans by visiting http://insurance101.nv.gov/. The website also lists all of the companies in Nevada that are licensed to sell plans and tips on shopping for insurance.

To verify that an individual, agency or company is licensed with the Division of Insurance, visit the division’s website. The State of Nevada Division of Insurance regulates Nevada’s insurance industry.

As Nevadans start to emerge after a difficult year, many consumers might be looking for a fresh start on their credit. Credit repair companies offer the chance to get your credit back on track, but Nevadans should be aware that some of these companies may not be entirely legitimate.

“If you are unhappy with your credit, you can take steps to repair it on your own,” Ford said. “If you would prefer to pay someone to set up a repayment plan for you, be on the lookout for misleading companies that may be trying to get your personal information.”

If you want to hire a credit repair company, the Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following tips for spotting a scam. Be alert if a company asks you to pay all fees up front before it does any work on your behalf, instructs you to dispute information on your credit report that you know is accurate, promises to remove all negative information from your credit report or doesn’t explain your legal rights when they tell you about their services.

Some companies may charge a one-time fee ranging from $15-$200 to set up the account. But no credit repair organization may charge a consumer any money before the service is fully performed. With your legal consent, the company may challenge and clean up any inaccurate items with the three major credit bureaus or directly with the creditors. If a company tells you to say you have been the victim of identity theft when you have not, this is illegal.

Credit repair takes time and not every negative item can be removed and legitimate credit repair companies should include a copy of the Consumer Credit File Rights. Additionally, you have the right to cancel any services without incurring any penalties within three business days.

Under the CARES Act, you can obtain an extension and a forbearance on some types of loans for up to 180 days. These protections are valid until June 30. Homeowners with federally backed loans might be able to apply for mortgage forbearance. Federal student loans are eligible for suspensions of payments and defaults, and interest rates are set to zero, until Sept. 30.

If you have been victimized by any crime related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please file a complaint about your experience to the attorney general’s office and the National Center for Disaster hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or by e-mailing the NCFD at disaster@leo.gov

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