Friday, July 10, 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. "A Pill that Makes Your Brain 15 Years Younger? Forget About It" (FTC)


2. "FTC Stops Robocall Scam" (FTC)

3. "Getting Calls from Your Own Number?" (FTC)


4. "A Text Message Mess" (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. 90MP0216) 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 includes a recent article about older adults and identity theft featuring the Illinois SMP and the return of the medical alert scam. 


Have a great weekend!

The "Holy Grail" for Identity Thieves: Your Medicare Number

The Chicago Tribune's Prime Time section recently included an article on older adults and identity theft that featured the Illinois SMP Program at AgeOptions. Jason Echols, who oversees the SMP Program, was quoted as saying:

The Social Security number is the Holy Grail [for identity thieves].... Many older adults know they should not give out their Social Security number, but don't know they should not give out their Medicare number [which] is a Social Security number, and it's usually their own.

Read the full article "Don't Be the Target of Identity Thieves" on the Chicago Tribune website by clicking here.

Identity thieves may try to target you at anytime, but you can prepare yourself by knowing what your "personal information" is and never sharing that with a stranger or someone who calls or visits unsolicited. Personal information includes your:
  • Medicare number
  • Social Security number
  • Credit or debit card number
  • Bank account information (checking and routing number)
  • Birth date (your birth date on its own is not useful to scammers, but it can help them steal your identity if they have other information about you)
Never give this information to someone you do not know or who has contacted you unsolicited. 
Return of the Medical Alert Scam 

Summer is a time when Hollywood puts out sequels of popular movies from a few years ago in order to rake in huge profits. It seems that scammers are taking a page from Hollywood's book by bringing the return of the medical alert scam. In this scam, you receive a robocall saying that you are eligible for a free medical alert system or someone has bought one for you. All you have to do to receive this "free" system is provide banking or personal information to cover monthly monitoring costs.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Florida Attorney General's office recently filed a complaint against one company that has been calling consumers, particularly older consumers, across the U.S. Read more about the joint complaint in this press release: click here

If you are thinking about getting a Personal Emergency Response System, first read this FTC tip sheet: click here. You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging by searching for the agency serving your area on

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