Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has been made aware of a recent upsurge in “robocalls” that falsely claim to be made by “Blue Cross Blue Shield.” The calls appear to market insurance products by using the Blue Cross and Blue Shield brands and coincide with current enrollment periods.

As a general rule, licensed Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies do not refer to themselves publicly as ‘Blue Cross,’ ‘Blue Shield’ or ‘Blue Cross Blue Shield.’ Legitimate licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association also usually make a point to include specific information to identify its full corporate or trade name in its communications.

Robocallers’ identities may be further masked by “spoofing” technology, which can make calls appear to be coming from a different telephone number than the actual number from which they are placed. Spoofing can make it extremely difficult to block future calls or to identify the source and take action.

“Keeping our members safe from scams is very important to us,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “Arkansas Blue Cross takes very seriously any unauthorized use of the Blue brand. We have specific guidelines for outbound calls. By sharing this information with our customers, we hope to help them protect themselves.” Here are some guidelines on how to tell if a call is from a bona fide representative of Arkansas Blue Cross and steps that may be taken to verify the authenticity of such calls.

Arkansas Blue Cross personnel will never:

• Ask for a bank account number* *(Note: On rare occasions, Arkansas Blue Cross customer service representatives may call customers who have issues with payments. These representatives always will confirm their identities as Arkansas Blue Cross representatives by reading the member the amount of the member’s most recent payment.)

• Ask for an entire Social Security number

• Ask about health information without first verifying the member’s identity

• Call after 9 p.m. Central Time

Arkansas Blue Cross representatives will always:

• Introduce themselves and fully identify the company they represent

• Identify a customer’s health plan, if it is through an employer. (Example: “This is Mary Jones from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield calling about your plan with ABC Company ... ”)

• Mention that the call is being recorded for training and quality purposes

Persons who have doubts as to whether a call is from Arkansas Blue Cross may follow the following three steps to be sure:

1. Ask for a confirmation number and hang up

2. Call the number listed on the back of their member ID card

3. Provide the confirmation number to the customer service representative who

answers. The call then will be directed back to the representative who originally called.

More information on overall healthcare fraud and reporting, particularly the surge in robocalls, may be found here:

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,900 employees. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is comprised of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 106 million members — one in three Americans.