I have been unemployed since December 2008 and due to the fact that I recently lost my health insurance coverage under COBRA
, I began searching online for reasonably priced health insurance.
I entered my name and contact information at ehealthinsurance.com, and was contacted within minutes by a guy named Donald Ulrich at PJP Health Agency. I told him that I wanted health insurance coverage to replace the coverage I had under COBRA. He told me he had just what I was looking for and quoted me a price of $639 per month for a health insurance plan under the Oxford Liberty Plan
. He told me that in order to qualify for this "incredibly low" monthly rate, I had to give him my checking account number and pay by automatic monthly withdrawals from my checking account. I asked him if I could pay by credit card instead, and he said no. I found this to be a bit odd, but I foolishly gave him my checking account number, and the next day, a debit was made from my account in the amount of $789.
Since I was charged $150 more than I was quoted, I sent Mr. Ulrich an email asking why I was charged more than the amount I was quoted. He responded and told me that the extra $150 was for a one time "membership fee" in the American Benefits Association. He said that he "thought that he mentioned it to me" when I gave him my checking account number during our telephone conversation. I know that I didn't authorize this "membership fee", so I replied to his email and told him that I never authorized this fee and wanted it refunded. He responded by telling me that I had to be a member of the American Benefits Association to qualify for the "low monthly premiums" with Oxford. Foolishly, I bought into his lies and instead of just cancelling my policy, I decided to wait for the arrival of my insurance cards from Oxford.
After about 3 weeks, I finally received something in the mail... not from Oxford, but from the American Benefits Association. The documents were all low-quality copies, and my information was handwritten and not printed. I called up the telephone number for the American Benefits Association, and the woman who I spoke to told me that I had purchased a medical discount plan and not a health insurance policy. I called up Mr. Ulrich at PJP Health Agency, but I was unable to contact him. Since his voicemail was full, I wrote a certified letter to him asking PJP Health Agency to refund all of the money which was debited from my checking account. The letter was received and signed for two days later, but I didn't receive a reply. However, three days later, my checking account was debited again, this time in the amount of $639. I tried calling Mr. Ulrich once again, but I was still unable to reach him.
I went to my bank and filled out an ACH Form, which revoked PJP Health Agency's authorization to make future debits from my checking account. I also changed my account number, as the bank employee who I spoke with told me that the company might try to make future debits from my account using another name.
It was at this time that I believed that I was the victim of a scam and decided to file a complaint against PJP Health Agency with the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs. The woman I spoke with at the Office of Consumer Affairs told me that they had received many complaints against PJP Health Agency and gave me the number of a woman by the name of Janet Davignon at the New York State Insurance Department in Albany who was now handling the investigation. I called and spoke with Ms. Davignon, and she told me that her office had received many complaints against PJP Health Agency and that she was currently involved in a joint investigation with the fraud departments of a couple of health insurance companies. She listened to the details of my complaint and told me that she would be in contact with me in the future.
My advice to anyone who is reading this and has been ripped off or deceived by PJP Health Agency is to call Ms. Davignon as soon as possible to add you name to the list of victims of PJP Health Agency! I am also going to take the advice contained in a post on another consumer complaints website and call up Angela Cascarano, the segment producer of Fox 5 New York's "Shame, Shame, Shame
", which airs on The Ten O'Clock News. The only way to stop scammers like PJP Health Agency is to share your story and file complaints with the proper authorities!