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News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: October 14, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Warns of Marketing Scams During Medicare Open Enrollment
Commissioner Aggressively Goes After Insurance Predators

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today warned seniors and their advocates to be on guard against unreasonable sales practices during the annual enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans and the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. Open enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7.

"California seniors and their families should be extremely cautious when they are approached by aggressive agents selling products that sound too good to be true," said Commissioner Jones. "While the majority of agents are honest and have good intentions, there are a few bad actors just waiting to take advantage of another unsuspecting senior."

Commissioner Jones said he's made it his Department's mission to protect seniors from these scam artists by vigorously going after them and halting their activities. The Department has handled a number of sales abuse investigations, including the 2010 case of Ghassan Ibrahim who submitted fraudulent Medicare Advantage applications on behalf of nine senior citizens. It was found that Ibrahim submitted fraudulent requests that the premiums be deducted from the individual's Social Security payments. His license was revoked and he was later convicted of three counts of felony grand theft.

Commissioner Jones offers the following tips to help California seniors and their advocates protect against predatory insurance sales practices during the open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans and the Medicare Prescription Drug Program:

  • Remember that Medicare has no official sales representatives so the program doesn't send people to solicit your business.
  • Federal regulations prohibit unsolicited sales call, and marketing in educational or care settings.
  • Guard your personal information. Never give out your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card information over the telephone.
  • Verify that the person you are dealing with has a proper authority to act on behalf of the plan.
  • Federal regulations also prohibit offers of free meals for listening to a sales presentation or for signing up in a particular plan.

Commissioner Jones urges the public to bring deceptive practices to the Department's attention. "If we know about questionable conduct we can do something about it," he said. "We are here to help."

Even if someone isn't certain about whether he/she has experienced a deceptive sales practice, or if you have any questions or concerns, contact the Department at 1-800-927-HELP (4357). You can also visit our web site and go to the senior portal which contains valuable information specifically for older Californians. 

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2012 the California Department of Insurance received more than 160,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $64 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Out-of-state callers, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.

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