Bryan Cohen Sep. 20, 2013, 8:30pm

BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) -- Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced Thursday the launch of a coordinated state and federal effort to protect against health insurance privacy breaches and fraud.

Gansler met with multiple government officials Wednesday at the White House to discuss and launch the intergovernmental initiative.

On hand for the meeting were U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

"State attorneys general are on the front lines every day working to prevent scams and keeping consumers' personal information secure," Gansler said in a statement.

"We expect the implementation of the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act will likely give rise to attempts to exploit the public and we will work vigorously with federal stakeholders to educate consumers, investigate complaints and, where necessary, prosecute those who violate the law."

Scammers use multiple ploys to try to deceive consumers into giving up personal or financial information. For instance, they may pretend to be government representatives or use agency names that are similar to reputable health insurance companies or government agencies.

Consumers who report their personal information may have been compromised will be provided with information about how to prevent or respond to identity theft.

At Wednesday's meeting, Gansler and the other attendees outlined and agreed on multiple initiatives, including the creation of the Marketplace Call Center for consumers to file concerns about fraud, the connection of consumers to the FTC's Complaint Assistant through and the development of a system of routing complaints through the FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network for appropriate referral and analysis.

The intergovernmental initiative is meant to make sure consumers can securely and confidentially shop for the most suitable and affordable health coverage starting Oct. 1.

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