Friday, February 13, 2015
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.


Consumer Fraud: 


1. "Sending Money Out of Love, or Sending a Scammer Money?" (FTC)


2. "Share These Online Safety Tips with Your Valentine" (FTC)


3. "FTC Obtains $9.5 Million Judgment Against Sweepstakes Promoter for Contempt" (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 is a special Fraud Alert dedicated to information and resources regarding a recent data hack at a major health insurance company.


Have a great weekend!

The Data Breach: What Happened

Last week, there was news of a major data breach at Anthem, America's second largest health insurance company. According to the FTC, computer hackers stole data that included names, birth dates, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, etc. Anthem is taking steps to address this issue and identify the consumers affected by this hack. Anthem has said that once it identifies who was affected, it will be sending letters via postal mail to those consumers. You can find updated information about the specifics of this hack and who it impacts at a special website that Anthem has created:

Even if your information was not compromised in this hacking, it is important to understand that identity theft can happen to you, which is why you must protect yourself. If a scammer has your personal information, they could possibly access your bank account or open lines of credit in your name and leave you with a mess that takes years to sort out. Read on for tips to avoid identity theft.
Phishing: Don't Take the Email Bait

As with any big news story, scammers are ready to jump on the headlines and use them to scam people. There have been reports of scammers emailing or calling consumers pretending to represent Anthem. Their goal is to convince you to give them your personal information, which means that even if someone's personal data was not involved in the computer hack, that person may end up giving their information away to a scammer who emails or calls. This scam is known as a "phishing" (pronounced "fishing") scam because the scammer is using the promise of free credit monitoring or credit card protection as bait to get information like your social security number or bank information. Never click on links in emails from someone you do not know and never give your personal information over the phone or via email to a stranger. Remember that Anthem is sending letters via postal mail to consumers. Read more about this phishing scam on the FTC blog.
How You Can Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

With a data hack of this size, you may be wondering if you are impacted and what you can do to protect yourself from potential identity theft. 

The Illinois Attorney General's Office issued a press release about this data breach and the phishing scam, which includes tips for consumers who have been impacted by the hack at Anthem. Read the press release and tips here.

Many sites suggest that you put either a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report if your information was part of the data breach. You can read more about fraud alerts and security freezes in the Attorney General's Identity Theft Resource Guide.

In the state of Illinois if you are a victim of identity theft, a security freeze is free. Some people may consider a security freeze on their credit report as a precautionary measure. However, there could be up to $10 in fees each time you place, remove, or temporarily lift a freeze on your account. You can read more in the Identity Theft Resource Guide (see above) to make an informed decision.

You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every year at Reviewing your credit report and looking for inaccurate information is something that everyone of us should do on a regular basis. This free credit report is the tool that helps you spot identity theft and misuse of your personal information. 

Other resources:
Attorney General's Identity Theft Hotline (866)999-5630 
FTC Identity Theft Website:

Finally, here is a video from the FTC about what identity theft is and five steps you can routinely take to protect yourself and your identity:

What Is Identity Theft?
What Is Identity Theft?

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