Friday, April 7 , 2017
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In This Issue
 
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Health Care Fraud:


Consumer Fraud:

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.
 
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0216, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. 
  

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Dear SMP Readers, 

 

In this week's Fraud Alert, two stories about phone scams remind us to be careful about what information we give over the phone.

 
Medicare Fraud Telemarketer Sentenced to Year in Prison in Illinois
   
The owner of a telemarketing company in suburban Cook County was sentenced last month to 1 year in prison and forfeiture of $599,000 for her role in a Medicare fraud scheme. The telemarketing company would cold call Medicare beneficiaries and convince them to accept home health services. The caller would then collect personal information, like their Medicare number, and send it to home health companies who would pay for the referral. Read more in this U.S. Department of Justice press release

As the story above illustrates, there are telemarketing companies who will try to convince you of the need for medically unnecessary health care services and supplies. They tell you about all the Medicare benefits to which you are entitled, and they want to ensure you are taking advantage of all of them. However, the only one being taken advantage of is you. Unsolicited calls like this can lead to your Medicare account billed for services and supplies you never received or different than what you received. These calls are wrong.
 
When you are in need of any type of health care services or supplies, it is strongly recommended and most important that you work only with your doctor. Your doctor has your medical records and knows your health history, and nobody knows your health care needs better than you and your doctor.  A stranger who randomly calls you on the phone cannot diagnose your condition or make recommendations as to your health care needs. Would you take medical advice or medicine from a stranger on the street? No! Random people who call on the phone are no different-they are strangers.
 
The Illinois SMP at AgeOptions takes complaints like this every day. If this happens to you, give us a call at (800)699-9043 and ask for SMP.
 
 
Hello? Can You Scam Me Now?
   
We have heard several reports of people getting a call where someone or a recording asks "Can you hear me?" According to this Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blog post,  a robocall like this is illegal and should be reported to the FTC, especially if you are on the Do Not Call list. The likely result of responding verbally to this call or pressing a number is that you are letting the robocaller know that there is a live person answering the phone at this number. This will likely lead to more unwanted calls.
 
Whether you receive this call or not, here are some things every one of us should be doing to protect ourselves:
  • Put your number on the Do Not Call list. Being on this list makes calls like this to your number illegal and helps in reporting to FTC.
  • If you have caller ID, do not answer the phone when you do not recognize the phone number. If the call is important, the caller will leave you a message; a scammer will not leave a message.
  • Check your credit report. You can request a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year. Mark your calendar to request a report from a different agency every four months. 
  • Read your statements regularly. This includes your Medicare Summary Notice but also any credit card or bank statements. Check for services you never received or for purchases you did not make.
Again, these are things every one of us should be doing regardless of whether or not we receive a "Can you hear me?" call. 

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to jason.echols@ageoptions.org.