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What to know about suspicious benefit mail arriving in our community

Posted at 7:49 AM, Dec 01, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's that time of year again when millions of Americans are allowed to enroll or change their health benefits. While that information usually comes directly from your employer, many of you may have received benefit enrollment packets in the mail from unsolicited third party companies.

News5 has reported on suspicious emails and even text messages many times, but an old-fashioned envelope in your mailbox is still one of the most popular ways people can be fooled into sending your personal information.

J. Michael Skiba, also known as "Dr. Fraud" with CSU Global, says mail like this passes people's first test of legitimacy if their guard is down.

A letter with "2021 benefit information for Colorado citizens only" at the top arrived in the mailbox of one of our station's employees that was sent from a Georgia company, making it look official. Skiba said mail like this is arriving at homes across the country.

"It's really a national problem because what they do with this template is they will just put you know, cross out Colorado and put Texas or Maryland in here and then just change the addresses around a little bit," he said.

The mail asks for names, ages, phone numbers and home address. While the mail may be deceptive, it's not illegal. In the letter, there is an option to opt-out information in tiny fine print at the bottom. Skiba said responding to the mailer isn't dangerous, but it can lead to more robocalls, sales calls, and junk mail in the future.

"It's really just a business development tool. What would happen is you know you would get bombarded with with those sales calls and sales you know different medium that they're going to use and that information once when you get in that system it's kind of hard to get out of it," he said.

News5 Investigates shared this mailer with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser who said the tactics used here are disturbing because it looks official, inclining people to respond. Mailers like this are a concern and he's urging state lawmakers to look at options to better protect our information.

"One challenge is Colorado like most states does not have a privacy law that protects people from collecting and selling information about us without our consent. California passed such a law, other states of looking at it. We're going to be discussing whether or not, Colorado needs some form of a law to protect consumers from having information collected about us and then sold to others without us knowing about it," he said.

If you get something in the mail that looks similar to this, before throwing it away, you should contact the Colorado Attorney General's Office where someone can help you understand what you've received.

"We can help analyze it. Also, if it is a fraud we want to know about it so we can do something about it," Weiser said.

Have a story you'd like News5 Investigates to look into? Send an email to News5Investigates@KOAA.com.
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