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News: 2012 Press Release

For Release: October 12, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Warns Seniors 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 aware of unreasonable sales practices during the 2012 annual open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage Plans and the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. Open enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7.

"Medicare open enrollment is a time when older Californians should be particularly cautious," said Commissioner Jones. "A growing number of California seniors are falling prey to unscrupulous sales people peddling products seniors don't need and cannot afford. If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Since taking office in 2011, Commissioner Jones has made protecting seniors one of his top priorities. While a majority of insurance agents are honest, and have good intentions, there are some waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting seniors. The California Department of Insurance offers the following tips to help seniors and their advocates protect against predatory insurance sales practices:

  • Medicare has no official sales representatives so the program doesn't send people to solicit your business;
  • Federal regulations prohibit unsolicited sales calls or 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 proper authority to act on behalf of the plan;
  • Federal Regulations also prohibit offers of free meals for listening to sales presentations or for signing up in a particular plan.

Commissioner Jones urges the public to report deceptive practices to the Department. "We are here to help," he said. "But the only way we can do something about questionable conduct, is if we know about it." Even if someone isn't sure whether he/she is a victim of deceptive sales practices or has any questions, contact the Department at 1-800-927-HELP (4357). Consumers can also visit our web site at www.insurance.ca.gov 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 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 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 or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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