Friday, October 30, 2015
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

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 features a news story about Medicare fraud and low income older adults, why the Census Bureau may contact you, and a warning about contractor scams. Don't forget to check out our Fraud in the News section!


Have a great weekend!

Medicare Scammers Targeting Low Income Older Adults in Illinois

WBEZ Chicago recently aired the story "Medicare Scammers Taking Advantage of Low-Income Beneficiariesabout a Medicare beneficiary targeted by a scammer while she was in line at a food pantry. As the FBI agent interviewed for this story points out, low income beneficiaries may be targeted by scammers who offer free services or $50 in cash to use someone's Medicare number.

If you need help paying for things like food, prescriptions, or health care, there may be help out there. Contact your local senior service agency to ask about what is available and if you qualify. Find your local senior service agency at If you have been targeted for health care fraud, contact the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043.
What the U.S. Census Bureau Does In Between Censuses

Most of us hear about the U.S. Census Bureau when they attempt to count all American residents every 10 years. But what do they do in the ten years in between? They continue to survey random samplings of Americans, and these surveys provide useful data to lawmakers, planners, and even social service agencies for how best to serve local communities. Because this data is so valuable, it is important to participate if you are contacted. 

SMP has received calls about letters the Census Bureau is sending out to residents in Illinois who have been randomly selected to participate in one of their surveys. If you get a letter or receive a call and want to be sure that you are actually being contacted by the Census Bureau, you can call (800)865-6384 and ask "Am I in a survey?" They will ask for your name and address and look to see if you were sent a letter. You can also visit the Census Bureau's "Are You in a Survey?" page (click here).

One last tip - remember that the government does not contact you to ask for your social security number. None of the Census Bureau's household surveys ask for this type of personal information.
Need Work on Your Home? Do Your Homework First

The Cook County Sheriff's Department recently informed AgeOptions that they are seeing an increase in contractor scams. For example, you may get an unsolicited visit from a "contractor" telling you that a tree in your yard is going to fall on your neighbor's house. They say you need to get it fixed right away and that they can do it for you. Then, the scammer overcharges you for substandard work or they have an accomplice burglarize your house while you're outside inspecting their work.

If you need home repairs or other contract work, it is best to do some homework first. Research the contractor or company. Ask for and call references. Be cautious about doing work with someone who calls or visits you unsolicited and who tries to pressure you into making a decision immediately. Read more about home repair scams and signs to avoid these scams in this article from the Illinois Attorney General's Office (click here). 

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