Who to call

If you believe you have been targeted by a scam artist posing as an insurance agent, contact the S.C. Department of Insurance to verify his or her credentials before disclosing any personal or financial information.

By phone: 1-800-768-3467

Online: www.doi.sc.gov

The federal Affordable Care Act has created an opportunity for scammers to steal personal information from unsuspecting victims, the South Carolina Department of Insurance said in a consumer alert Thursday.

“Posing as insurance agents or representatives of the federal governments, these scam artists try to sell fraudulent policies or obtain sensitive information like Social Security and bank account numbers,” the alert said.

Department of Insurance spokeswoman Ann Roberson said the scams are not unique to South Carolina. She could not provide any specific information about how many South Carolinians have been targeted or how many have been victimized by the scams.

The federal government will open health insurance enrollment through its new health insurance marketplace on Oct. 1. Consumers cannot purchase an insurance policy until then, and should not be fooled by fake websites posing as the marketplace, the Department of Insurance warns.

The department advises consumers to be leery of special premium offers or any salesperson who says the penalty for not purchasing insurance is time in jail.

The federal health care reform law establishes financial penalties for individuals who don’t purchase a health insurance plan next year, but the maximum fine in 2014 is $95. There is no criminal penalty.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.