Friday, January 23, 2015
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week
Big Life Insurance Payout or a Big Scam?
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.


Consumer Fraud: 


1. "FTC Racks Up Charges Against Unscrupulous Debt Collector" (FTC)


2. "Shutting Down an Income Scam" (FTC)


3. "FTC Issues Follow-Up Study on Credit Report Accuracy" (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 information about Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, including tips on spotting the IRS impostor scam, and an alert about fake life insurance payout letters.


Have a great weekend!

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week
Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week January 26 - 30, 2015 Logo
Next week is the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. The FTC has a lot of great resources, articles, and tips on their website at

In a tax identity theft scheme, a scammer files a fraudulent tax return using another person's social security number and receives the refund electronically. This means that you may not realize you have been the target of this scam until you try to file your own tax return and the IRS says that a return has already been filed in your name. 

This year, the FTC is also focusing on the continuing IRS impostor scam. In this scam, the scammer calls you pretending to represent the IRS and claiming that you owe taxes. The scammer often demands immediate payment or threatens that the police will arrest you if you do not pay. 

The Illinois SMP continues to hear stories about this scam. Recently, a consumer told us that an IRS impostor even gave an IRS badge number to make their claims seem more true. However, the IRS does not call you without first sending a bill, and if you do owe taxes, you have a right to request a copy of the bill and discuss payment options.

Because this is currently such a big scam, you should never engage with someone who calls you saying they are from the IRS. Hang up and call the IRS directly at (800)829-1040 to see if you owe taxes. Read more about this scam in the IRS' article "Five Easy Ways to Spot a Scam Phone Call."

The FTC is also hosting a webinar on tax identity theft and the IRS impostor scam on Tuesday, January 27 from 1:00-2:30 pm Central Time. Visit for more information on how to join this webinar.
Big Life Insurance Payout or a Big Scam?


The Illinois SMP is getting reports that some people have received fake letters claiming that a life insurance policy is waiting to be paid to them if they complete and return an enclosed form that asks for personal information, including social security numbers. These letters look like they are coming from actual, well-known insurance companies, but when you look closer, the scammers have just copied and pasted the insurance company's logo onto the letter.

If you get a letter like this, do not return the form and do not give your social security number. If you think that this might be legitimate, look online for the phone number online of the insurance company the letter claims it represents (do not trust the phone number in the letter). Call the insurance company, with the number you verified online, and they can tell you if you have a payout waiting for you. The insurance company will also want to know about scammers using their name to defraud people.

Read more about life insurance scams in the Identity Theft Awareness website's article "Life Insurance Identity Theft Scam."

In a twist on this scam, the letter claiming you are receiving a life insurance benefit may come with a check. Do not cash this check. This is a scam. You can read more about Fake Check Scams on the FTC website.

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