Friday, June 2 , 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, new Medicare cards are coming next year and be careful dialing phone numbers to avoid potential scams..

 
New Medicare Cards Are Coming - Scammers Are Coming Too
   
At every SMP presentation, we talk about how the Medicare card number is a social security number, usually your own, and why it is important to safeguard this number against identity theft and never give it to strangers over the phone. We are often asked why Medicare doesn't just change the number.

Well, Medicare is changing the number. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out new cards to beneficiaries with an 11-digit combination of letters and numbers that has nothing to do with your social security number. CMS will stagger these mailings, and by April 2019, all Medicare beneficiaries will have their new cards.

You will not need to do anything to receive your new card. It will be sent via mail.

Anytime there is a major change like this, scams will follow. This Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blog post has great tips for spotting potential scams related to this rollout. In general, just remember that Medicare will never call you to gather personal information and will never ask you to pay for this new card. 

Any call that asks for this information is a scam and can be reported to the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions at (800)699-9043.
 
Phony Phone Numbers
   
The Illinois SMP and several SMPs in other states have received reports from people who have tried to call a legitimate government or social service agency only to end up talking to a potential scammer, who may ask for bank information or your Medicare card number. 

How does this scam work? This  Federal Trade Commission (FTC)   blog post  explains how scammers have bought phone numbers that closely resemble the phone number for an actual U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program. They are hoping that people calling the VA will misdial the real number and reach them.

It's not just the VA. Last year in this Fraud Alert article, we shared how scammers used phone numbers similar to 1-800-MEDICARE ( 1-800-633-4227) to trick people misdialing that number. We are also seeing this happen with Medicare's Quality Improvement Organization and even with state programs meant to help people navigate Medicare.

If you are calling Medicare or VA, they will not ask you for money or bank information. If this happens to you, report the call to the FTC at  www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions.
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.