I was cold-called by a woman named Sydney from Peoples National Health after shopping around for health insurance online. It had been really difficult for me to find insurance as I have a pre-existing condition, so I was thrilled when she offered me a plan through a company called "USA National Select" based in NY. It seemed too good to be true, so I did some research and quickly determined it to be a scam within a few minutes of getting off of the phone with her. I called back and asked to cancel, and confirmed with Sydney that I had cancelled and that my credit card would not be charged. She sounded very disappointed, and informed me that no further action was needed on my part. A while later, she tried to call me, but I was very wary as a result of her deceit (and the fact she left no voicemails) and I did not answer her calls.
Everything felt a little wrong, because my credit card showed an authorization for a charge, but my bank told me that this could simply mean that a refund had not yet been processed and I should keep and eye out to see if they did in fact charge me. This all occurred on Oct. 26, 2012.
In spite of my cancellation, my card was charged, twice. Once on Oct. 26, and again on Dec. 1. I disputed the first charge and I am still waiting to hear back. Today, I disputed the second charge with my bank (they have been very helpful through this whole process). They also advised me to call the company directly and see what I could do to resolve the dispute.
I called Sydney directly this morning and asked to speak with a supervisor. She said that she was the supervisor, and so I asked to speak with whoever she answered to. She told me that there was no one in the office, so I told her that I would be happy to leave a voicemail. She told me there was no voicemail and instructed me to call USA National Select directly, as she had no record that I had called and cancelled (I have the date, time and length of the phone call logged in my phone's call history).
I took down the number she gave me and requested again to speak with her superiors as she had lied to me about the nature of the cancellation, and lied about me having called to cancel at all. At this point, she hung up. I called back, and she answered the call and immediately hung up. From then on the call went straight through to her voicemail.
I called USA National Select directly and told them the situation. They said they would not refund me for the previous charges unless they confirmed with Sydney that I had cancelled on Oct. 26. I informed them of her deceit and said that it would be her word against mine. I have received a confirmation of cancellation from them via email.
After I got off the phone, I called Peoples National Health again and rather than dial Sydney's extension, I selected the option for Customer Service, which also went straight through to her voicemail. I immediately called my bank and asked that they change my account number so that I won't be charged anymore.
I tried calling again 45 minutes later to inform Sydney that I would be reporting her and her company to the BBB and the Insurance Commissioner, only to hear a recording saying that the number is not in service. I tried other numbers on their website, and all went to the same recording saying that the number is not in service. So, I signed up for a number through Google Voice, and lo and behold, the call went through no problem. My number had simply been blocked.
After filing my complaint with the BBB, I called the CA Insurance Commissioner, and discovered that Peoples National Health is not a licensed broker in California. They are based out of Florida, so I called the Office of Insurance Regulation in Florida, and discovered that Peoples National Health are not licensed brokers there either (Sydney had identified herself as a broker on the phone but neglected to mention that she was
not licensed and nor was her company). The representative from the Office of Insurance Regulation in Florida advised me that my only options at this point were to change my credit card account number
(already did) and to seek legal counsel, but followed up saying that it was unlikely that I'd find a lawyer to help me.
My next step is most likely going to be to determine whether USA National Select is licensed to operate in NY. I'll probably also call the CA Insurance Commissioner's office again and see if they have any further advice.