Friday, March 10 , 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:

1. " Eye on Oversight: Exclusions" (HHS OIG YouTube Channel)

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, an alert on scammers pretending to be the agency that fights health care fraud and how National Consumer Protection Week can last all year.

 
When Fraudsters Pretend to Be Fraud Fighters
   
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) is a government agency tasked with investigating Medicare and Medicaid fraud. So, it was alarming when the HHS OIG discovered that it's name and hotline number were being used in a scam to obtain personal in
formation.

1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) is really the number of the government's HHS OIG hotline where people can report fraud. Scammers are making this number appear on people's caller ID to gain trust.

As we have written about in these Fraud Alerts, scammers love to impersonate the government and will use "spoofing" technology to have a government name or number appear on your caller ID. We have seen scammers pretend to be Medicare, the IRS, local police and now the HHS OIG. So called government imposter scams are effective because people generally trust the government.

Trust this - the government NEVER calls you to ask for your personal information. No government agency will call to ask you to verify your Medicare number or social security number. Never give this information to a stranger who calls you.

Read more about this HHS OIG imposter scam in this HHS Consumer Alert. This FTC blog post about this scam also has links to more information on caller ID "spoofing" and imposter scams.

And remember that you can always report healthcare fraud to the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043. We work with the HHS OIG and can help you file a report or direct you to the appropriate entity for your concerns.
 
National Consumer Protection Week - This Week and Every Week
   
This week has been National Consumer Protection Week (March 5-11, 2017). Throughout this week, the Illinois SMP has been sharing tips via our Facebook page (be sure to Like our page to get our updates as soon as they come out).

This is a week to raise awareness of how every consumer can take steps to protect themselves from fraud. It also highlights the work of organizations that work to protect consumers, not just this week, but every day.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a federal agency where you can report consumer scams. The FTC also administers the Do Not Call list and collects complaints when companies violate the Do Not Call rules. You can also report phone scams to the FTC who collects and compiles information about scams that law enforcement can use to potentially track down scammers. Learn more in this FTC blog post.  

The Illinois Attorney General's Office is our state's consumer advocate. This office takes complaints from Illinois citizens about scams and other issues where consumer rights are abused. Learn more at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.

Finally, the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions is your statewide resource for health care fraud. Please call us if you believe you have experienced health care fraud. We can help you file a report or direct you to the appropriate entity for your concerns. We also have volunteers who give community presentations on health care fraud. To report potential fraud, request a presentation or to learn more about volunteering in your community, call the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043 and ask for "SMP."


Jar of coins with National Consumer Protection Week and Dates
National Consumer Protection Week - March 5-11, 2017
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.