California shut down 10 web sites last week that imitated the state’s health insurance marketplace for the Affordable Care Act, state Attorney General Kamala Harris announced.
The websites have domain names similar to the state’s official health care exchange and contain unauthorized references to the official exchange’s trademarked logo and name. In several cases, websites used the phrases “Get Covered,” “Covered California” and “California Health Benefit Advisers.”
“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” California Attorney general Kamala Harris said. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
In September, the California attorney general’s office began an investigation into websites that imitate the state’s Covered California website. Multiple website operators were sent cease and desist letters, informing them their websites were in violation of state law and demanding the immediate removal of the website or transfer of the domain name to the state’s official exchange.
The California Affordable Care Act forbids individuals or entities from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without securing a valid agreement with the State Exchange.
State law also prohibits solicitations that falsely imply a governmental connection, the use of a domain name confusingly similar to another entity, making or disseminating untrue or misleading representations with the intent of selling goods or services and unfair competition through untrue or misleading advertising.
To date, all website operators who have been contacted by the attorney general’s office have complied.