Friday, November 18 , 2016
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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, we share tips for starting a conversation about fraud and a warning that scammers may use news stories to make their claims sound more believable.


Read more in this week's Fraud Alert!

Happy Holidays! Now Let's Talk Fraud
At this time of year, many people get together to celebrate holidays with family and friends. This is a great time to check in on loved ones and talk about preventing health care fraud.

Have conversations about scams and fraud and ask questions. Here are some conversation starters and facts to share:
  • "I heard that people are pretending to represent Medicare and then calling folks asking for their Medicare number. Have you ever gotten a call like that?"

    FACT: Medicare never calls for personal information like your Medicare number; they already have that information. Just hang up on calls like this, and always read your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) to see what has been billed to your account. Find out more in our How to Read an MSN tip sheet.
  • "My friend said they got a postcard from a company offering free back or knee braces to people with Medicare. Have you seen mail like that or received a call offering that?

    FACT: Only your doctor can prescribe equipment (like braces). Talk to your doctor about any equipment or services you need. Only your doctor knows your health needs. Read more in our DME tip sheet.
  • "I see so many commercials about how this or that insurance company offers the best Part D plan to cover drug costs. Do you have a Part D plan for 2017? Did you check to make sure it will be your best coverage in the new year?"

    FACT: There is no one plan that will work for everyone. Medicare's open enrollment period is when people can change their coverage for next year, and it ends December 7. Anyone with a Part D plan can and should compare plans. Do not feel pressured to take a plan because of a commercial or an aggressive agent. Read more about how you can compare plans in the SMP's article on Medicare's Open Enrollment.

If you believe someone you loved has been targeted by health care fraud, encourage them to report the incident to the SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043.

In addition to the above tips, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers more conversation starters and other tips about consumer scams in their  holiday blog post.

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) currently has a campaign to address social isolation among older adults. n4a invites people to learn more about social isolation and talking to people in your life about what they could do to build more social support. Read more in the n4a Expand Your Circles: Prevent Isolation and Loneliness as You Age guide.

If you think your friend or family member may need or could benefit from additional services, encourage them to reach out to their local aging services agency, which can be found at or by calling
Scammers May Use News Stories to Scare You - Don't Believe Them

After the recent presidential election, much of the news cycle has focused on the transition to a new administration. Some of that coverage has focused on programs like Medicare or Medicaid. While no one has yet reported a specific scam, we often see scammers try to use news coverage like this to make their scams seem more believable. A classic example is the scammer who calls pretending to be from Medicare and claim that they need to verify your Medicare number.

One easy tip to remember is that Medicare will never call you to ask for your Medicare number. Simple as that. They already have your Medicare number and information. No government agency will call you out of the blue to collect personal information like this.

If you receive calls like this, please report to the Illinois SMP at (800)699-9043.

AgeOptions Ideogram


Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870


AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

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