Friday, January 9, 2015
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
SMP Interview: Home Health Fraud (Video)
Will Medicare Call Me?
New Year, Same Old Scam
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.


 Health Care Fraud:
1. "How to Protect Seniors From Health Insurance Scams" (U.S. News & World Report) 

Consumer Fraud: 


3. "Personal Scams, Not Data Breaches, Are Real Cons of 2014" (AARP)


4. "These Anti-Aging Claims Could Leave You Light-Headed" (FTC)


5. "Top Blog Posts of 2014" (FTC)


6. "For 2015 - Resolve to Back Up Your Digital Life" (FTC)

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 document was supported in part by a grant (No. 90MP0163 & 90SP0061) from the Administration on Aging (AoA), Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Grantees carrying out projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Therefore, points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official AoA, ACL, or DHHS policy. 


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Dear SMP Readers, 


This week's Fraud Alert contains an interview with Jason Echols, a question about whether Medicare ever calls you, and a warning about the continuing medical alert scam.


Have a great weekend!

SMP Interview: Home Health Fraud (Video)


This fall, the Comcast Newsmaker program in Chicago featured an interview with Jason Echols, who coordinates the Illinois SMP program. Jason spoke about the SMP program, examples of home health fraud, how our volunteers spread the SMP message, and what consumers can do about fraud. 

We just posted the video of this interview on the AgeOptions' YouTube page. Click the link below to watch:
Illinois SMP's Jason Echols on Comcast Newsmakers (October 2014)
Illinois SMP's Jason Echols on Comcast Newsmakers (October 2014)
Will Medicare Call Me?


We are often asked at SMP if Medicare will ever call you. Medicare does not call you to ask for your personal information, to sell you anything, or to give you something for free. These are all red flags that indicate potential fraud. Sometimes, Medicare conducts surveys and may call you for your feedback.

The key is that if Medicare calls you, they will not ask for your personal information. They already have it. It is important to understand what information a scammer would want and what a legitimate caller would not need. 

Scammers need your personal information to charge your Medicare account, take money from your bank account, or steal your identity. Here are some examples of personal information:
  • Medicare number, which is also someone's (usually your own) Social Security number
  • Health Insurance number (private insurance, Part D, or Medicare Advantage)
  • Social Security number
  • Bank or Credit Card number
  • Checking account number
Never give this information to a stranger.

If you do not know who is calling you, take steps to confirm their identity. See more tips on how to do this in the SMP's Fraud Alert article "Who Is That Calling?" from November 2014. If a Medicare contractor is calling you for a survey, they will be happy to explain who they are, why they are calling, and how to verify who they are by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

If you still feel uncomfortable with a call, it is always okay just to hang up the phone.
New Year, Same Old Scam


It looks like the medical alert scam will still be with us in 2015. In this scam, an unsolicited caller tells you that they will send you a free medical alert system or that a friend has purchased one for you. In reality, the caller is fishing for your personal information (credit card or bank numbers, your Medicare or social security number) using the promise of a free system as bait.

This a nationwide scam, but it is also happening in Illinois. In fact, a consumer who had been targeted by this scam recently called the Illinois SMP hotline. If you receive these calls, don't fall for it. Hang up and spread the word. See the tips above for avoiding phone scams.

You can read more about this scam in Sid Kirchheimer's June 2014 AARP article "Two New Twists in Returning Medical Scam."

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